Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Its not safe unless WE say its safe - so says the USDA

In one of the most ridiculous court cases ever the USDA has fought to prevent a a Kansas meat packing plant from testing 100% of the cows it processes for BSE (mad cow) at its own expense. The USDA currently tests less than 1% of cows processed and Creekstone Farms wanted to foot the cost to test the rest. Their customers want that level of testing and they were willing to provide that service. But the USDA took them to court and it appears they won.

A Federal appeals court ruled that the USDA could prohibit the meat packers from testing for BSE on the grounds that diagnosis can be considered part of treatment. The case went back to a lower court where it will continue to be argued.

What is wrong with this picture? Just about everyting!

If a meat packer wants to provide a higher level of testing why should the USDA prevent it? If consumers demand and seek out companies that provide that higher level of testing why should the USDA care? It can only be due to commercial interests - which run the USDA behind the scenes - being concerned that they might be held to that higher standard by market demand. Well, so be it. We are still a capitalist country - right?

Its time the USDA got out of the business of protecting corporate agriculture. Consumers need to demand expanded options - like increased testing. And they need to demand "truth in advertising" labels that give consumers a clear indication of what they are buying - so they can vote with their pocketbook. USDA needs to stop deceiving people with its labeling and tell it like it is.

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