Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Safeguard the American food supply? Support free-market-style competition? Who, the Bush regime? What are you, some kinda stinkin' Commie?

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"The U.S. Department of Agriculture tests less than 1 percent of slaughtered cows for [mad cow] disease, which can be fatal to humans who eat tainted beef. But Arkansas City-based Creekstone Farms Premium Beef wants to test all of its cows.

"Larger meat companies feared that move because, if Creekstone tested its meat and advertised it as safe, they might have to perform the expensive test, too."


Oops, I seem to have left out the opening paragraph of this news dispatch. That's right, comedy fans, it so happens that in this case the punch line comes first:

"The Bush administration said Tuesday it will fight to keep meatpackers from testing all their animals for mad cow disease."

That's right, ladies and germs, the administration is going back to court to prevent a company that wants to bear the cost of testing all its cows from doing so, even after a U.S. district judge has ruled that the government has no authority to stop the company from using the very same test the Agriculture Dept. uses for that one percent of beef it tests.

I'm delighted to own up that I first heard about this delicious story via columnist Rick Perlstein, who seems to have been kind of dumbfounded by it. It falls right on his turf, since he's now devoting his major columnizing attention to food-supply issues.

It takes a lot to render our Rick speechless, and in the end this story didn't quite, but it came close:

E. coli conservatism (19): the ne plus ultra

By Rick Perlstein on May 30, 2007 - 2:33pm.

Offered without comment. What is there possibly to say?

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration said Tuesday it will fight to keep meatpackers from testing all their animals for mad cow disease.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture tests less than 1 percent of slaughtered cows for the disease, which can be fatal to humans who eat tainted beef. But Arkansas City-based Creekstone Farms Premium Beef wants to test all of its cows.

Larger meat companies feared that move because, if Creekstone tested its meat and advertised it as safe, they might have to perform the expensive test, too.

A federal judge ruled in March that such tests must be allowed. The ruling was to take effect Friday, but the Agriculture Department said Tuesday it would appeal -- effectively delaying the testing until the court challenge plays out.

Mad cow disease is linked to more than 150 human deaths worldwide, mostly in Britain.

There have been three cases of mad cow disease identified in cattle in the U.S. The first, in December 2003 in Washington state, was in a cow that had been imported from Canada. The second, in 2005, was in a Texas-born cow. The third was confirmed last year in an Alabama cow.

The Agriculture Department argued that widespread testing could lead to a false positive that would harm the meat industry. U.S. District Judge James Robertson noted that Creekstone sought to use the same test the government relies on and said the government didn't have the authority to restrict it.


Oh, all right. One small comment. First, observe the contempt for liberty. When E. coli conservatives say self-regulation is preferable to government, they're even lying about that. Second, observe the contempt for small business. When a small company want to - voluntarily! - hold its product to a higher standard, the government blocks it, in part because bigger companies have to be protected from the competition, in part because a theoretical threat to the bottom line (false positives) trumps protection against a deadly disease.

There's your conservatism, America: not extremism in defense of liberty. State socialism in defense of Mad Cow.

As a number of online commenters have already pointed out, so much for the mystical conservative faith in the omniscient guiding hand of the free market, not to mention the miraculous power of competition. If you have the kind of bucks to get the attention of the Bush regime ("Our Motto: Your Government for Sale, or Maybe Rent"), you don't have to worry about no stinkin' competition.

As for guarding the safety of the American food supply . . . uh, well, you're welcome to leave your name and number, and maybe your gov't will get back to you. And while you're waiting, would you like to make a modestly whopping contribution in support of the Republican agenda?


UPDATE, COURTESY OF HOWIE: IT'S NOT JUST THE EATS... THE DRUGS PART OF "F.D.A." IS SCREWED UP TOO

Either the Bush Regime wants to prove government is incapable of doing anything right, which is what Republicans always say, or they really and truly are the most incompetent bunch that have ever gotten their paws on the levers of power. It doesn't matter which is true; the case has been made to separate the GOP and the U.S. government for a good long time. Tomorrow's NY Times calls the F.D.A. "still unsettled"-- and they're not even going near anything to do with beef.
When Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach took over the Food and Drug Administration in 2005, the agency had a crisis over drug approvals that had missed or ignored dangerous side effects in Vioxx, antidepressants and other prominent medications.

Dr. von Eschenbach promised improvements, and agency officials said they would no longer be caught flatfooted on drug safety.

But this month, The New England Journal of Medicine published a study suggesting that a major diabetes pill, Avandia, might increase the risk of heart attacks.

Again, incompetent or... something worse? Congress will start investigating June 6. I hope they talk to Dr. Curt Furberg, a professor of public health sciences at Wake Forest and a co-author of the New England Journal of Medicine’s editorial on Avandia. He says the F.D.A. is broken and that "safety is just not a high priority for them."

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4 Comments:

At 8:38 AM, Blogger Milt Shook said...

Think about this one...

ONE MAN has a rare form of tuberculosis, he's identified by the Homeland Security and the CDC, has his passport revoked and is told not to fly anywhere, because he's too contagious.

The guy flies undetected into Canada, and then drives over the border, undetected.

IOW, Homeland Security AND the CDC know who he is, he's on a no-fly list, but because he doesn't have brown skin, no one notices as he potentially infects hundreds of people.

And they're supposed to be protecting us from terrorists??

 
At 11:10 AM, Blogger keninny said...

Good one, Milt!

Ken

 
At 7:09 PM, Blogger Timcanhear said...

Fascinating story!
Thanks Ken!

 
At 11:15 AM, Anonymous teach said...

I have recently become aware of the issues surrounding NSAIDs. I thought that Ibuprophen was fine, but now find that after not taking it for some time, I was having a bad reaction to it. Now that I have had it out of my system for some time, I am feeling better than I have in years. Which just goes to show that the things they are selling us are not harmless.

 

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