“The Agriculture Department regulates the test and argued that widespread testing could lead to a false positive that would harm the meat industry.”
This was not accurate.
Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings, who had posted about the same article, looked up the brief and decisions on the case at the prompting of one of her commenters, and found “that the government had in fact made a completely different and much more defensible argument.”
[I]n short: the government argues that since tests for BSE only pick up the disease a few months before an animal becomes symptomatic, a point which is usually well after most US cattle are slaughtered, testing would miss most infected animals. It would, essentially, be a marketing gimmick designed to produce unfounded confidence. … I have no idea whether the government’s argument is right or not, but it’s important to be accurate about what, exactly, that argument was. And it’s completely different from the argument the AP story claims that the government made.
So, for the record, the Bush administration was arguing that the test “offers no animal health or food safety value” because of issues with the test that was to be used, and they appear to have been more concerned with false negatives than false positives. (In fact, the term “false positive” doesn’t show up anywhere in their 62-page brief.)
Perhaps there’s a Shaker who knows more about BSE testing and can provide some context to the actual argument being made here by the Dept. of Agriculture, or speak to its veracity.
Thanks to Hilzoy for the heads-up. Here ends this Public Service Announcement from the Reality-Based Community. Carry on.