• If you are having problems logging in please use the Contact Us in the lower right hand corner of the forum page for assistance.

Mad cow protesters in the US

Help Support Ranchers.net:

SASH

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 10, 2005
Messages
567
Reaction score
0
Location
Southern Manitoba
Protesters have beef with Mad Cow
Wednesday 15 June @ 14:55:07
Government summit on cattle disease meets with skepticism

by Adrienne Urbanski

Grown women dressed as cows and horror movie-like splatters of cows’ blood were among the sights outside the USDA’s first and only Mad Cow roundtable discussion in St. Paul, where a group of scientists and activists protested the U.S. government’s approach to the disease.

The protest/press conference was held by the Wisconsin-based Center for Media and Democracy and the Organic Consumer Association, cleverly staged on a green dotted with large cow sculptures on the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus. In addition to the donning of furry cow costumes, the group dumped commercially purchased calf feed containing slaughterhouse waste and cow blood, to demonstrate how Mad Cow disease is passed on.

The re-feeding of dead cows and cow blood to other cows, a not-uncommon practice in modern ranching, spreads Mad Cow disease or BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy), a neurological disorder which has been transmitted to humans primarily in Britain.

“The cows are basically eating themselves,” said Molly Riordan, a member of the Center for Media and Democracy and a participant in the dumping.

While the roundtable focused on industry leaders and, for the most part, nixed the inclusion of scientists or leaders of health organizations, the protest staged prior to it included scientists such as the Center for Media and Democracy’s senior researcher and molecular biologist Diane Farsetta.

While the roundtable discussion was meant to focus on the problem of Mad Cow, concern seemed directed more at restoring consumer trust in beef than the issue of whether Mad Cow is indeed a national health risk. Despite being open to the public and to the media, only members of the roundtable were able to ask questions and address concerns.

“Given that the roundtable was announced just three weeks before the event, and was only promoted in meat industry publications, I would say the USDA did a remarkably poor job, if their objective was to better inform the public,” Farsetta said.

The Center for Media and Democracy called the roundtable a “dog-and-pony show,” and consider it part of the USDA’s public-relations campaign to avoid policy changes while opening up foreign markets to U.S. beef.

The audience at the roundtable did seem to be comprised more of industry members than the local public. The room was dotted with cowboy hats, cowboy boots, and southern drawls.

John Peck, executive director of the group Family Farm Defenders, also sees the conference as a PR move.

“It’s a joke really, they’re just putting a spin on things, trying to make things seem better than they really are,” he said. “They even invited Japanese TV crews here so they’ll want to trade with us again.” Japan was the biggest importer of American beef until the discovery of Mad Cow in the U.S. in December of 2003.

One scientist taking the side of the cattle industry was Ron DeHaven of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), who assured the audience that current preventative measures would “prevent the disease from becoming established and spreading.”

Most of the speeches were concerned with restoring consumer confidence. Roundtable member Mike John of the National Cattleman’s Beef Association used his allotted time to assert that “beef is a delicious and wholesome food” and that “America is a great brand name.”

Kelli Ludlum of the American Farm Bureau Federation compared the number of fatalities related to BSE to the number of automobile fatalities, declaring that in comparison Mad Cow poses little threat.

Farsetta sees this industry-only panel as an attempt to weed out any potential criticism.

“Completely absent were criticisms even by government institutions such as the Government Accountability Office, the USDA’s Office of Inspector General, the USDA’s TSE Advisory Panel, or the International Review Subcommittee. While the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis report on Mad Cow disease was mentioned as justification for current policies, the Harvard team’s criticisms of the USDA somehow were forgotten.”

Apparently, the USDA anticipated some negative reaction from the public, as the level of security rivaled that of a presidential appearance. Police officers routinely patrolled the campus building’s hallways, and stood watch in the media’s overflow room. USDA Secretary Mike Johanns’ open time with the public and media was also only a few short minutes, and went unrecorded.

One of the key arguments reiterated by each roundtable member was the importance of the importation of Canadian cattle. In May of 2003 Canada discovered BSE in its cattle. While the United States halted the importing of Canadian beef during that summer, it began importing boneless beef in the fall of 2003.

Keith Collins, the Chief Economist of the USDA, defended the importing during his address.

“Without access to Canadian cattle, U.S. slaughter will remain below capacity, forcing some meatpackers to curtail slaughter operations.”

In his opening statements, Johanns addressed the importance of allowing the importation of Canadian cattle, and of Japan allowing the importation of American beef. “We are here to show that opening both the Japanese and the Canadian borders is absolutely safe and absolutely necessary for the health of our beef industry,” he said.

Repeatedly the panel referred to its “99 percent” success rate in compliance with the USDA safety mandates that prevent the spread of BSE through limiting the parts of dead cows that are put into feed, declaring it “a higher compliance rate than any other government agency.” According to Farsetta, however, that statistic is inaccurate.

“In March 2005, the Government Accountability Office, the nonpartisan, investigative arm of the U.S. Congress, reported on numerous problems with how compliance with the feed regulations is monitored. They revealed that the 99 percent figure is based on a small subset of feed producers that likely does not include many likely to have contamination problems.”

Coincidentally or not, Johanns announced the day following the roundtable discussion that preliminary tests found the existence of Mad Cow disease in three U.S. cows.

Farsetta suspects that the timing of these two events is more than just a coincidence.

“[In his announcement,] Secretary Johanns said that he was only handed the positive test result 10 minutes before the Friday evening news conference,” she said. “That may be true, but the USDA Inspector General’s Office reportedly asked that the “inconclusive” cows be retested at least a week previous. So Johanns at the very least knew about the retesting —but didn’t mention it—during the St. Paul event.”

According to the public record, Farsetta said, the USDA did announce their St. Paul event before the Inspector General’s Office asked them to retest the animals in question.

“But the timing and goals of the event, as I mentioned before, definitely raise questions for me,” she said. “And, with hindsight, it is certainly is convenient for the USDA—as it faces many questions about the likely new case of Mad Cow—to be able to point to the St. Paul event as evidence of a strong industry/government consensus on U.S. Mad Cow policies.” ||
 

SASH

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 10, 2005
Messages
567
Reaction score
0
Location
Southern Manitoba
The protest/press conference was held by the Wisconsin-based Center for Media and Democracy and the Organic Consumer Association,

Aren't these two of the groups that R-CALF has affiliated itself with? They must not care too much about the cattle industry in the US.
 

Sandhusker

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 10, 2005
Messages
18,486
Reaction score
0
Location
Nebraska
SASH said:
The protest/press conference was held by the Wisconsin-based Center for Media and Democracy and the Organic Consumer Association,

Aren't these two of the groups that R-CALF has affiliated itself with? They must not care too much about the cattle industry in the US.

NO
 

Mike

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 10, 2005
Messages
28,480
Reaction score
1
Location
Montgomery, Al
Neither of these groups are against eating meat. They do want more oversight from the USDA. Now they ARE for "organic" meat. Whatever that is.
 

Kato

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 10, 2005
Messages
2,679
Reaction score
0
Location
Manitoba - At the end of the road
The Center for Media and Democracy was founded in 1993 to investigate and report on deceptive public relations and propaganda campaigns. The Center publishes the award-winning quarterly publication PR Watch. Center staff have also authored five books, including the 1997 book Mad Cow U.S.A. by John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton. Mad Cow U.S.A. correctly predicted the emergence of mad cow disease in North America and received favorable reviews from such technical publications as the Journal of the American Medical Association, New Scientist and Chemical & Engineering News.

The Organic Consumers Association was founded in 1998. It is a nationwide network of 700,000 organic consumers, carrying out public education around issues of food safety and environmental sustainability, while promoting organic agriculture and Fair Trade.

It's all here..... http://www.organicconsumers.org/

And so it begins ......
 

Jeannie

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 12, 2005
Messages
188
Reaction score
0
Location
Who Cares?
Mike said:
Neither of these groups are against eating meat. They do want more oversight from the USDA. Now they ARE for "organic" meat. Whatever that is.

Are you serious with this question or are you being facetious?
 

Mike

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 10, 2005
Messages
28,480
Reaction score
1
Location
Montgomery, Al
Jeannie said:
Mike said:
Neither of these groups are against eating meat. They do want more oversight from the USDA. Now they ARE for "organic" meat. Whatever that is.

Are you serious with this question or are you being facetious?

Question?
 

Murgen

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 12, 2005
Messages
2,108
Reaction score
0
Location
Ontario
Hey, here's a pic from the protest.

http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y47/Murgen/stopMC.jpg :mad:
 

Latest posts

Top