Inevitably, when news of any sort of outbreak or potential contamination of the food supply occurs, the first thing the government tries to do is maintain calm among the masses–even if they have to lie to do it.
When we first learned that a U.S. cow had tested positive for mad cow disease, the government assured us that the cow showed no outward signs of illness prior to being euthanized.
STROKE OF LUCK: A random test of a dead dairy cow in California led to the discovery of the first new case of mad cow disease in the U.S. since 2006.
We now learn that the infected cow actually did show signs that something was wrong with it. In fact, this was why the cow was euthanized in the first place–because it was acting like it was lame and lying down!
FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — The California dairy cow found to have mad cow disease was very old for a milk producer and had been euthanized after it became lame and started lying down, federal officials revealed in their latest update on the discovery.
The 10-year-old dairy cow, only the fourth ever discovered in the United States, was found as part of an Agriculture Department program that tests about 40,000 cows a year for the fatal brain disease. It was unable to stand before it was killed and sent to a rendering plant’s Hanford, Calif. transfer station. [...]
In the current case, the USDA didn’t elaborate on the cow’s symptoms other than to say it was “humanely euthanized after it developed lameness and became recumbent.” Outward symptoms of the disease can include unsteadiness and incoordination.
Source: Associated Press
This is a routinely-used tactic of the government when breaking potentially explosive news to the public. They give us some, but not all, of the relevant information about the situation, while at the same time starting the campaign to make people believe their official story. Then, after the initial bombshell, they allow other relevant facts about the case leak out. It is, however, very difficult for any thinking person to make a logical assessment of the situation because the government purposely misleads the public in order to protect industries and corporations.
Over and over, they relentlessly repeated two things during the week since the story broke: 1) The cow did not appear to be sick 2) There isn’t any danger to the food supply from this case because it was a dairy cow and the disease isn’t spread through milk. Now, we find out that the cow was in fact lame and lying down. Yet, the government expects us to believe their other claim about this case and the information about how the disease spreads.
The funny thing about this whole mad cow debacle is that some companies have offered to test EVERY cow for the disease, so they can label it as tested for BSE, but the government has prohibited them from doing so.
Since 2006, the USDA has been testing only 40,000 cattle a year for mad cow disease (bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE). But each year we slaughter 35 million cattle. That means 99.9% of cattle are not tested. According to a 2006 USDA estimate, about one in a million U.S. cattle carries the disease. [...]
Amazingly, the USDA won’t let anybody else test cattle for BSE — not even cattle producers themselves.
In 2006, a firm called Creekstone Farms set up a testing facility and asked the USDA for the test. Creekstone wanted to sell its Angus beef to Japan, which won’t accept untested cattle over 20 months old. But the USDA refused to license the test to Creekstone. In a split decision, an appeals court upheld the USDA’s position.
The USDA’s position is that since the rapid BSE test can’t detect early BSE infections, the test can’t be used to certify — or market — beef as BSE-free. But Consumer Reports argues that letting companies test would at least increase the number of tests at industry expense.
“Japan tests every animal at slaughter. They know that once in a while one will slip through. But that’s better than letting them all slip through,” Halloran says.
So what we have is the government refusing to allow testing of all cows, citing the reason as not being able to make a claim of “BSE-free”. While this factoid might be true, it’s not why the government refuses to let the industry test at their own expense. The real reason is that increased testing is an indicator that there is a problem, and the USDA doesn’t want to admit that there is a problem. Consequently, they suggest that standard testing on all cows is unnecessary because of the implications of such a move.
On the surface, it might seem that the government conceals pertinent information because they don’t want the public to panic. Well, that’s true, but it’s only part of the reason. They don’t want people to panic and stop consuming beef, because that would hurt the beef industry and the economy. Already, other countries have put their import of American beef on hold as a result of this case of mad cow disease.
Cases like this one call into question the safety of the U.S. food supply and the bottom line that most consumers don’t understand–that it’s all about business and the safety of the public at large is secondary to profit. From their view it’s okay if some people get sick and die, so long as it’s not too many.
Consequently, as consumers and thinking people, it would seem prudent to take our health and safety into our own hands, and question whether (in light of all we know about the government’s failure to disclose relevant information) we should rely solely on the government to inform us about the safety of foods we consume.