Friday, August 20


Steve Mitchell keeps plugging away at the USDA's web of deceit surrounding BSE testing. His latest find is that they failed to test, or ineptly tested, nearly 500 suspect cows over the past two years -- including some in categories considered most likely to be infected. As he points out, this means "it may never be known with certainty whether these animals were infected with the deadly disease." And as for the lies, "Department officials said these animals were not included in the agency's final tally of mad cow tests, but the records, obtained by UPI under the Freedom of Information Act, indicate at least some of them were counted." More specifically, USDA spokeswoman Julie Quick told UPI, "None of those (untested animals or ones with the wrong portion of the brain collected) were counted in official sampling." However, Mitchell notes, it would have been necessary to include some of the untested animals in order to arrive at the USDA's final tally of 19,990 animals tested in fiscal year 2002, as stated in a Jan. 15, 2003, news release.

It's become clear that the whole strategy is simply to paper over the unsettling truth until after Election Day, as every move by the USDA is another foot-dragging, smoke-and-mirrors exercise, sometimes carried to absurd lengths. "Although UPI initially received the testing records last January, the USDA refused to release a key that would help decipher the meaning of several obscure codes and acronyms. After several more months of requests to obtain the key from both the Freedom of Information Office and the agency's Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service, the USDA finally released the key in late May, but insisted it was not legally required to do so." All of this would be hilarious if people's lives weren't at stake - people, perhaps, like the unnamed person with a mysterious disease that looks like Mad Cow, but experts are assuring us isn't. "Experts who are studying the strain, discovered at Harborview Medical Center this summer, are awaiting blood tests being conducted at Cleveland's National Prion Disease Pathology Surveillance Center, the Seattle Times said. Those tests should be completed in September. 'The disease is clearly not the human form of mad-cow, nor does it appear to be Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, a closely related condition,' said Dr. Pierluigi Gambetti, director of the center. 'We really are puzzled at this time,' he said. 'This is unusual.' Let's hope it stays that way - but with the USDA in charge, hope may be our last resort.

UPDATE 8/23: Still more USDA prevarication: A USDA document from 1990 obtained by UPI acknowledges British cows as young as 22 months were infected with mad cow. USDA officials, in the wake of the December case of mad cow disease, have insisted it would be unlikely to find the deadly disease in cows under 30 months of age, but the 1990 document, entitled "Emergency Programs Alert" and issued May 1990, describes the outbreak of mad cow disease in the United Kingdom and states: "Age of affected cattle at onset ranged from 1 year 10 months to 15 years." The document urges USDA veterinarians to collect a brain sample from any U.S. cattle showing signs of the disease and does not specify any limitations on age.

1 comment:

Drew said...

Sigh...but hey, it's another reason for me to stock on some Boca and Gardenberger products! :) The worst part is that I live in a place where the options are very limited. I fell in love with the meatless meatloaf and now I haven't had it for over six months since I can't find it.

It's heartbreaking, I tell ya!