Friday, May 23


In another example of media myopia, the Gallup organization found that 96% - yes, that's NINETY-SIX PERCENT - of Americans believe animals deserve protection from harm and exploitation, including a surprising ONE IN FOUR who would grant them "the exact same rights as people to be free from harm and exploitation" - and Gallup headlines this poll, "Public Lukewarm on Animal Rights." What Gallup means by "lukewarm" is "confused," of course, since it's unlikely 25% of people are ready to boycott foie gras, veal, or circus animals - clear examples of needless exploitation by any standard - yet these folks do have some moral sense that's leading them toward compassion and understanding. After picking its own wording that led to the 25% (based around the "rights" chimera), Gallup backpedals by pointing out how inconsistently those people answered other questions. Still, nearly 2/3 of Americans want more laws protecting farm animals and more than 1/3 would ban all animal testing, whether for medical research or product testing. I dunno, seems pretty remarkable to me.

Thursday, May 22


As the shock waves from "one single cow" (remember when they said that in Japan?) spread across North America, the obvious issue of the United States' pathetic level of BSE testing is being raised in many forums such as USA Today. In a bit of clumsy PR typical of the USDA, the agency was maintaining that the herds that are now quarantined in Canada were never in the US up to this morning - then the story changed to USDA now unsure if affected Canada herds were in US. Meanwhile, Canada hasn't escaped scrutiny, admitting the cow's diseased head sat in a freezer for four months before it was found to be infected, and even checking for a possible CWD link. And in the UK, they're sounding a new alarm about a BSE risk in bones and blood used in other meats, because of the ongoing scandal over hydrolysed beef proteins injected into chicken meat - a cost-cutting practice that, surely, happens only over there across the pond. I know, stop calling you "surely." I got a feeling a lot of things are gonna stop getting called that soon.

Wednesday, May 21


A new study has kicked up a controversy by claiming that chimpanzees are more closely related to humans than previously thought, that in fact they are homonids, a genus we used to believe we inhabited alone. "Historically, the philosophy behind how we group organisms was flawed," said Morris Goodman, one of the authors of the report. Our "anthropocentric" worldview led to "exaggeration of the differences between humans and their relatives," he said, acknowledging that the new classification would have "political implications, challenging our long-held view of the boundary between humans and other animals." Let's hope so, since that view is mercenary at best, and violently delusional at worst.

Tuesday, May 20


As if by divine irony, on the same day scientists scaled back predictions of BSE deaths in Britain to more hopeful levels, Mad Cow Disease was found in Canada, sending meat-related stocks in the U.S. tumbling as it torpedoed our "can't happen here" mentality. But don't worry, folks - there's a firewall between the disease and our citizenry - the USDA!


That's not my headline, it's right outa yesterday's edition of The Mirror. OK, it's a tabloid, prone to sensationalism, and yes, "we" is just Britain - but here's the kicker... who's behind this prediction of 100% vegetarianism in 44 years? Why, Safeway, of course! Whaaahhh????

Monday, May 19


There's little new in this Philadelphia Inquirer series on the ineffectiveness of the USDA in handling the meat industry; most of it rehashes the Denver Post series from last August. But what new stuff there is, pegged to the Wampler recall of fatally poisonous deli meat, is pretty interesting...

Vince Erthal, the food-safety inspector at the center of that whirlwind, says his supervisors gave "Wampler managers advance notice of USDA's 'random' listeria tests, which allowed the company to conduct 'special cleanups' that ensured negative listeria findings." Gosh! If I didn't know better, I'd sure call that "fraud" - wouldn't you? And before discounting him as a lone nutcase, bear in mind that "he is among a number of field inspectors across the country who have accused USDA managers of refusing to aggressively police plants with sanitary problems."

In the rewrite of the Denver Post USDA-too-close-to-the-meat-industry (which, let's remember, was basically a rewrite on PCRM's position paper on the USDA from three years ago), it's noted that when Michael R. Taylor became the USDA's head of food safety, "he found his phone was equipped with speed-dial buttons for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and the American Meat Institute." Taylor closes that sidebar with the observation that the agency's meat-industry large population of meat-industry alumni "creates a fundamental conflict of interest because it forces the secretary of agriculture to balance her food-safety responsibilities with her economic and promotional functions." Oddly, though, "her" (Ann Veneman's) ties to industry powerhouses like Cargill and Monsanto goes completely unmentioned, as though some of the editors got cold feet at the last moment and removed the relevant paragraph.

It's not at all surprising, though, that the nine "Tips to Avoid Food-Borne Illnesses" do not include the simplest, most commonsense and effective tip of all: REDUCE OR ELIMINATE YOUR CONSUMPTION OF FOOD IN WHICH THESE BACTERIA ORIGINATE. Yep, innocent kids dying horrendous deaths from E.Coli poisoning we can take, but doing without meat? It's literally unthinkable.

UPDATE 5/21: Inquirer Editorial following up on series. Turns out they're against bad meat.