Mad Cows, Lame Ducks
By Jeff Victor on Aug 30, 2008
It seems that the current executive branch of the United States government doesn't like its citizens. Back in April 2004, the N.Y. Times reported that the U.S. Department of Agriculture "refused to allow a Kansas beef producer to test all of its cattle for mad cow disease."
One might think that testing food for the ability to cause a fatal, untreatable disease would be encouraged by the US government. But in this case, apparently the Agriculture Department is choosing sides in a business struggle, putting the interests of one group of corporations - large meat packers - ahead of another group - small meat packers. In all of this, the Bush administration is putting business before public health, yielding to the wishes of "larger meat packers opposed to such testing" who "fear they too will have to conduct the expensive tests" in order to remain competitive in the US. (recent Associated Press article)
To be sure, Creekstone is not acting on a wholly altruistic basis. They want to be able to sell their products into the Japanese beef market, which has repeatedly prohibited beef imports from the US because of concerns over "mad cow" disease. Creekstone wants to enhance its competitiveness by proving that its beef is safe.
I'm not suggesting that a government should require this test on beef products. But if one company wants to take steps that protect public health, the federal government should not get involved, especially if the goal is merely to protect the profits of Big Business.