Friday, June 10


They're shameless about it now: "The announcement came at the end of a weeklong tour by veterinary experts from South Korea who inspected U.S. slaughter plants, and as Japan's Food Safety Commission convenes to conduct risk assessments based on U.S. mad cow safeguards." The announcement of what, you ask? Oh, that's right, you may not have heard because the end of the weeklong tour happened to be the end of the week - FRIDAY. Don't worry about it or anything, it's just another potential *cough* Mad Cow.

The sneaky behavior of the USDA on this suggests that this really is Mad Cow, or at least that they're pretty sure it is. This is classic behavior in obfuscating a coming bombshell (remember that the first "actual" Mad Cow was announced a few hours before Christmas Eve), part of the PR strategy to spin it that this is a non-event. And having it released to the press when it won't get covered helps it not be an event.

But in case this is finally confirmed, that won't be enough, so language gets ever more Orwellian: "This is a situation where the firewalls worked. We do not have a human health risk. This animal did not enter the food chain," says Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns. What, didn't anybody have time to brief the incoming USDA chief on the meaning of firewall that they've been using for almost a decade? The firewall was keeping BSE out of the United States, simple as that. Now all of a sudden, the firewalls are inside the system, so sure, there will be Mad Cow in the meat, but it will miraculously be stopped from getting to your plate.

Problem with that is the bottom line: Our trading partners don't care whether Mad Cow gets from the animals to our plate, they care if it's in the animals. And that's why this will continue to be a big deal, whether or not this particular animal is completely confirmed as infected. We've already moved the "firewalls" inside, virtually declaring defeat in the crusade to Keep Mad Cow Out of US Beef. Yeah, that's gonna make US beef an attractive product for export, all right.

1 comment:

Amy Guskin said...

Man, it wasn't a moment too soon that I gave up red meat 15 years ago. I hate to be smug, but anyone who didn't see this coming a mile away had their eyes closed (which I guess goes a long way to explain how Bush got "elected" twice).