Wednesday, March 3


Well, this is pretty big, even if it doesn't make the front pages: "The government has begun a criminal investigation into whether records may have been falsified in the nation's first and only case of mad cow disease, the Agriculture Department's inspector general said Wednesday. AND: "In a separate investigation, the General Accounting Office is checking the feed industry's compliance with a Food and Drug Administration's rule aimed at keeping the infectious protein blamed for the disease out of cattle feed." (Guess I wasn't the only one who wanted to see the paperwork.) PLUS: "The criminal investigation is moving alongside a non-criminal review of the Agriculture Department's response to the mad cow case, the department's inspector general, Phyllis Fong, told a House subcommittee." And in case there's any doubt what the focus is of the criminal investigation, "Fong said it focuses on whether the infected Holstein cow truly was a 'downer' animal unable to stand or walk when it was slaughtered Dec. 9 in Moses Lake, Wash."

Dave Louthan is the guy that has been saying otherwise, and he hasn't shut up about it. Here's some of his latest prognostication: "I told everybody the meat people only had until calving season to get this fixed. That time is now upon us. All that inventory they have been holding back to keep the prices up must move now to make room for all the new feeders popping out now, today... There will be a huge surplus of fat cattle waiting to be slaughtered. Prices will continue to plummet. All the smaller feedlots will go under right away. They will demand subsidies. The American taxpayer, you, will pick that up. The Gov't is already broke. George W. spent all the money beating up Saddam. Higher taxes will be necessary." Dunno if all that's accurate, but it makes as much sense as anything the government's saying. And this part sounds familiar to readers of Meat Facts: "You're not going to get sick for a while, so unlike lysteria, E- coli, and salmonella, they can simply push it under the rug in the name of Profit. If this was a disease you got today and died from tomorrow, it would be a whole different ball game. As long as Joe Average is getting his bills paid on time and watching the evening news, which is completely devoid of any Mad Cow reports, he'll be content to sit there munching on contaminated beef and pretending that BSE is something that happens somewhere else. Besides, it's perfectly safe and risk free - the Gov't said so. Time after time." Lessee if people still credulously believe the USDA officials when they're speaking from jail.

UPDATE 3/4: While Dave Louthan proffers ever more dangerous accusations - e.g. three federal investigators pressured him to sign a written document "to change my story" (and this may be true, but Louthan better be ready to back it up), the USDA is putting the finishing touches on its "Schrodinger's Cow" defense. This is a cow that can be both a downer and not a downer, depending on whether it's being observed at any given moment. USDA's DeHaven: "there is nothing saying that an animal that is down cannot get up. So in fact both accounts could potentially be true." USDA's Julie Quick: "Clinically, a downer animal can get up and walk for brief periods of time." See? It was all just a matter of semantics. Go back to sleep.

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