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Today's WSJ commentary

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S CO rancher

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I am posting this for your information as to what is being said out of NYC. Unfortunately the table mentioned did not copy from the email.


REVIEW & OUTLOOK

The Madness of Herds
July 18, 2005; Page A12

Remember mad-cow disease -- how it was going to be the next AIDS epidemic? Back in the late 1990s, there were predictions that the human form of the brain-wasting ailment would soon take a heavy toll, "potentially even hundreds of thousands of deaths," according to journalist John Stauber, who co-wrote a book on the subject. Over in Europe, billions of pounds and euros were spent, and millions of healthy cows slaughtered, to avert prospective catastrophe.

We are reminded of this history on more recent, and happier, mad-cow news. On Thursday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned an injunction by a federal judge in Montana extending a ban on the importation of Canadian cattle and certain cuts of Canadian meat. The Bush administration imposed that ban in May 2003 after a solitary mad Canadian cow was found, then sought to lift it over the objections of a protectionist ranchers lobby. This follows on last month's news that a Texas cow was diagnosed with the disease, making it America's first homegrown case.

In case you're wondering why the discovery of a mad American cow is good news, one answer is that it shatters the protectionists' alibi that our cattle herds were safe while those of other countries weren't. Since Canadian and U.S. beef safety standards are almost identical, it's no wonder the Ninth Circuit ruled as it did.


As it is, the idea that one, or even many, mad cows endanger the U.S. food supply is nonsense. The U.S. has banned the use of meat and bone meal in cattle feed, long considered the chief vector of the disease, for almost a decade. America's cattle population is subject to routine and intensive monitoring, with 400,000 cows tested in the last year alone. The brain and spinal cord tissue of animals 30 months or older -- the most infectious parts of the most at-risk animals -- are banned from entering the U.S. food supply.

More to the point, the supposed link between eating infected tissue and acquiring the human form of mad-cow disease (known as variant Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease, or vCJD) is in doubt. The first case of mad-cow disease was detected in Britain in the 1980s, during which an estimated 700,000 infected animals were thought to have entered the human food stream. Epidemiological evidence suggests that vCJD has a very long incubation period, in the five to 25 year range. Thus we should now be witnessing skyrocketing rates of infection. Instead, as the nearby table shows, cases of vCJD peaked in 2000 at 28 (yes, only 28) world-wide and have been declining ever since, with just nine cases in 2004. Epidemiologists now believe the ultimate toll from the disease will not exceed 200.

Yet even as the incidence of the disease falls, the protectionist consequences have risen. The administration should have known better when it slapped the ban on Canadian cattle and beef, because it was just a matter of time before a mad cow would show up in a U.S. herd. Sure enough, in December 2003 a Canadian-born mad cow was found in Washington state. And sure enough, some 50 countries put bans on American beef, including Japan, South Korea and Mexico. Japan's ban still holds, representing the loss of what was once a $1.7 billion market for the U.S. cattle industry.

Matters are even worse on the Canadian front. Prior to the ban, the U.S. imported about one million head of cattle per year, many of which went to slaughterhouses and meat-packing plants in northern states. Those plants are now at risk of being shut down; already, 7,800 jobs have been lost to protectionism. Then there is the cost to consumers: Beef prices have risen by 20% since the ban took effect, no small price to pay for burying one mad cow.

If there was ever a textbook case of faulty science having disastrous policy results, this is it. There's a lesson here for the Bush administration, which has tried this game before with its steel tariffs and softwood lumber ploys. We can only be grateful that the Ninth Circuit has rescued the administration -- and a good-sized chunk of an American industry -- from the consequences of its short-term thinking.
 

Mike

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reader (the Second) said:
S CO - this is an opinion piece and I cannot see who the author is because I have to subscribe for $100/year to do so. Can you post the name of the author please?

You can rest assured it ain't Steve Mitchell. :wink:
 

redriver

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This is the general viewpoint of anyone who justs stops and gives it some thought. If bse was as dangerous as r-cult would like you to believe, everyone in Britain would be dead.
It is time to move on and put r-cult in the dustbin of fringe fanatical groups that have had their day. If they continue with their pathetic court case on the 27th they should be brought to justice for their waste of court time and taxpayers money.
 

PORKER

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Only written by AMI :::::How much $$$$$$$$
Matters are even worse on the Canadian front. Prior to the ban, the U.S. imported about one million head of cattle per year, many of which went to slaughterhouses and meat-packing plants in northern states. Those plants are now at risk of being shut down; already, 7,800 jobs have been lost to protectionism. Then there is the cost to consumers: Beef prices have risen by 20% since the ban took effect, no small price to pay for burying one mad cow.
 

mrj

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reader (the Second) said:
I found this WSJ op-ed the same day on the website of an organization called Truth about Trade and Technology which is a pro-NAFTA/CAFTA/global trade and pro-genetically modified crops site associated with ex Farm Bureau folks and most likely with Monsanto.

Again, based on my own life experiences, I gather that a few years ago the large corporations got together and hired a bunch of PR folks to put out advertising disguised as facts and put out by non-profit foundations on the Internet. That seems to be their preferred mode even though I'm not sure anyone pays attention anymore to these guys, it's so blatant. Either all these PR efforts arel connected somehow or these guys wrote the WSJ op-ed...

I imagine that Agman could tell us a lot about this and possible MRJ :) :) :wink: As you all know, this stuff disgusts me. I had to teach about subliminal messages in advertising when I taught at UTexas. I cannot believe the low lifes in the advertising industry and I cannot believe what large corporations will stoop to. This non-profit status thing is absurd.

There's another wierd phenomenon in current advertising which I need to look up, based on psychology research. Academics will do anything to get their own research funded.

{reader 2, in your infinite wisdom and gleanings from your "life experiences" are you telling us that there are no honest people who advertise, and that no information in advertising is factual? MRJ}
 

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