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June 20, 2008

Are You Still Eating Beef?

The New York Times ran an opinion piece this morning that talked about the tensions between South Korea and the U.S. over President Lee Myung-bak's decision, under intense pressure from this administration, to again allow imports of U.S. beef. That decision brought tens of thousands of demonstrators into the streets.

South Koreans, like most of the rest of the rational free world, are very concerned about eating beef tainted with Mad Cow Disease which is a fatal, excruciatingly painful and debilitating disease. They know that our FDA only checks about 1 in every 1000 dead and slaughtered cattle which is 1% or less of all potentially diseased cows.

What's most disturbing about this is that there is a simple and relatively quick test for MCD but our corrupted FDA won't let any private company (and there have been several who have tried) use this test! The sale of the test kits to private companies is prohibited under an obscure 1913 law that allows the FDA to prohibit veterinary products that it considers “worthless” even though that is the very same test that the FDA itself uses! Which, of course, begs the question -- if it is, in fact, worthless then why does the FDA use it in their own testing program?

To me, the answer is pretty obvious. Like oil and pharmaceuticals, the multi-billion dollar beef industry controls the FDA. And the politicians and government bureaucrats are afraid that if they found too many cattle with MCD then the public would stop buying beef. Duh!? They would rather protect their fiefdoms and treasuries than protect the health and well being of their own citizens.

It seems that in this country even discussing this issue in the broadcast news media (where most Americans get their news) has become a no-no. When it is mentioned, it's given short shrift. The emphasis is on the news events (i.e., Korean riots) and virtually nothing is discussed about this country's testing program. The interested parties have succeeding in pushing the issue out of people's minds and making it seem a little like discussing UFO's.

My partner and I gave up eating beef when the story first broke years ago precisely because we didn't trust the government's assertions that the beef supply in this country was safe. After the EPA telling New Yorkers that the air around the fallen towers was safe to breath, it's pretty hard to believe what the government tells you anymore. I'm really glad we made and stuck to that decision. But whenever I try to discuss it with friends or co-workers who are still eating steaks and burgers, the responses are always pretty much the same; "Well, you're going to die of something anyway." or "That's all way overblown." Can you say blind denial?

If you're still eating beef, you may want to reconsider. At least until this country institutes an effective and comprehensive testing program. I agree that we're all going to die of something but why chose to do something that YOU KNOW has a very high risk of killing you far sooner and far more painfully than might have been the case otherwise? It's kind of like waiting for the walk light to turn red and then crossing the street.



shrimplate said...

Today's (6/28/08) AZ Republic has a LTTE about this, and I hope you do not mind that I've snipped and linked your piece in one of my responses there.