As Liss mentioned below, the Bush administration is taking legal action to prevent a small meatpacking company in Kansas from testing its entire herd for mad cow disease. WTF, you say? Oh, don’t worry. They have a good reason: They want to protect the giant meatpackers from consumer pressure to test their cows [my emphasis]:
The Agriculture Department tests fewer than 1 percent of slaughtered cows for the disease, which can be fatal to humans who eat tainted beef. A beef producer in the western state of Kansas, Creekstone Farms Premium Beef, wants to test all of its cows.
Larger meat companies feared that move because, if Creekstone should test its meat and advertised it as safe, they might have to perform the expensive tests on their larger herds as well.
The Agriculture Department regulates the test and argued that widespread testing could lead to a false positive that would harm the meat industry.
A federal judge ruled in March that such tests must be allowed. U.S. District Judge James Robertson noted that Creekstone sought to use the same test the government relies on and said the government didn’t have the authority to restrict it. – A federal judge ruled in March that such tests must be allowed. The ruling was scheduled to take effect June 1, but the Agriculture Department said Tuesday it would appeal, effectively delaying the testing until the court challenge has played out.
Rick Perlstein at Campaign for America’s Future [bolds are Rick’s]:
Offered without comment. What is there possibly to say?
Oh, all right. One small comment. First, observe the contempt for liberty. When E. coli conservatives say self-regulation is preferable to government, they’re even lying about that. Second, observe the contempt for small business. When a small company want to – voluntarily! – hold its product to a higher standard, the government blocks it, in part because bigger companies have to be protected from the competition, in part because a theoretical threat to the bottom line (false positives) trumps protection against a deadly disease.
There’s your conservatism, America: not extremism in defense of liberty. State socialism in defense of Mad Cow.
This is just bizarre. In this case, a business wants to go above and beyond what’s required by law, and test all of its cows for mad cow disease. The Bush administration won’t allow it.
What’s more, a federal judge ruled a couple of months ago that these voluntary industry tests must be allowed, and the ruling was set to take effect on Friday, prompting the Agriculture Department to announce today that it would appeal the ruling. In the interim, Creekstone can’t do the tests it wants to guarantee food safety.
Bush administration officials couldn’t possibly be that afraid of “false positives.” Shouldn’t public health be the greater concern?
Silly Steve. Not when public health conflicts with profits! On the other hand, if public health and safety can be used as a cover story to justify a policy that brings in huge profits, then go for it.