Tuesday, March 30


So I'm reading along... "The U.S. government's main laboratory for testing mad cow disease, located in an Iowa strip mall, is not secure enough to store dangerous pathogens like the brain-wasting disease, USDA..." Hang on. Excuse me? The sole spot we've been counting on to ensure the safety of the entire country as well as several crucial industries... is a storefront in a strip mall? "The building housing the strip mall is close to other commercial businesses and has limited security at the entry and exit points," said a report by the USDA'S Office of Inspector General, which conducts independent audits and investigations of USDA programs. Well, yeah. Also, the Dunkin Donuts next door might lead some people to think we don't take actual BSE testing all that freakin' seriously. This article adds that "Investigators repeated their concern that scientists and students were allowed "unlimited access" to the laboratory without the USDA requiring background checks." But really, man. It's the strip-mall thing. Maybe that's why the USDA suddenly announced seven new testing facilities at big-name universities. Also possibly related - Mad Cow Blamed For Ames Plant Closing, as strip-mall BSE testing professionals move to college towns so they can get an education while doing their job.

UPDATE 3/31: Mad cow samples removed from Ames laboratory, reports the local Ames paper. Very odd. Why were samples there if they shouldn't be, and why do they need to be "removed" all of a sudden? And where exactly are these particular samples going to? Previously, "Officials of the animal and plant inspection service had stated that 'all pathogens of consequence had been removed,' but investigators learned later from a laboratory official that a mad cow tissue sample remained. Hmmmm. The more cynical among us might wonder if there were samples that could be "troublesome" which may wind up getting "misplaced" en route. Also, ya gotta love this description of our strip-mall BSE lab: "The lab moved to the site in 1973 and was intended to be temporary." Well, see, now it's gone, so it was temporary. I mean, it was only there 31 freakin' years...

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