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USDA has brought dishonor to America

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HAY MAKER

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In light of Sec Johanns' statement about the newest BSE positive in America, previous USDA reassurances to Japan et al about the BSE-free status of all American beef products have been disingenuous and insincere statements. Consider comments made by the USDA Secretary:



"USDA will develop new protocols that subject samples that return conflicting or uncertain test results for BSE to both the immunohistochemistry test USDA has traditionally used, as well as the Western blot, which most BSE authorities consider the most conclusive test method". Since most authorities endorse the Western blot method, why hasn't the agency utilized this test? This flies in the face of the agency's previous statements that it implements "An abundance of caution" in its BSE sampling and prevention protocol. USDA's BSE oversight can now be properly labeled "An abundance of detection circumvention".



"Johanns conceded that USDA's protocol, which prefers IHC to Western blot, might be out of date, and that a new protocol will be developed that examines samples with both tests simultaneously". Johanns' concession is a tacit admission that the agency has been fully cognizant of the shortcomings of the IHC method, but has been historically unwilling to adapt its sampling/testing protocol to the most scientific protocol available.



"Johanns also acknowledged that body parts from five animals were stored together during the test process last fall, a failure of the sampling and segregation procedures that APHIS developed. Freezing of samples will be discontinued immediately, Johanns said". How can USDA claim an "Abundance of Caution" when it allowed APHIS to implement knowingly inadequate sampling and segregation procedures in the past?



"USDA scientists will meet with international authorities to develop a comprehensive protocol for all detection, handling and testing of suspected BSE cases". This agency action "after the fact" shows its tardiness in proactively addressing the possibility of BSE in America. The agency is only willing to change its inadequate protocol after disaster strikes, i.e. only after a subsequent BSE positive has been discovered in America's indigenous herd. USDA's method of operations is to take BSE seriously only after the beef has been allowed out of the barn.



Realizing USDA's current alleged repentance and admission of previous inadequacies in its BSE protocol, one can easily see why most foreign countries have been unwilling to accept USA exported beef. Coupled with the agency's obdurate refusal to allow domestic meat plants to perform 100% testing, such as Creekstone Farms and Gateway Beef Cooperative, foreign nations have legitimate justification to question USDA's motivations and sincerity, as well as product safety.



Recent news revelations that many countries respect communist China more than America reveal a growing international view of America that will run contrary to our desire to open up our export markets. USDA has been displaying an arrogant attitude towards dozens of "misled" foreign countries concerning their apparent illogical opposition to accepting our beef exports. The agency's economic sabre rattling has now backfired, and America's producers will now pay the price for USDA folly.



While America proudly proclaims that democratic government is open and transparent, USDA's actions threaten the credibility of lofty democratic idealism. Until the agency is run by true professionals, and becomes accountable, similar misdeeds will frequently recur. USDA has brought dishonor to America's scientific community, and impugned the reputation of American beef safety. This agency is a rolling cannon, and must be reigned in.



John W. Munsell, President

Montana Quality Foods & Processing

Miles City, MT
 

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