Despite its assurances that the US beef industry is safe, the US Department of Agriculture announced another case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE – commonly known as “mad cow disease”) has been discovered in a California cow.
The U.S. Agriculture Department confirmed on Tuesday a California dairy cow had mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), the fourth such U.S. case since it was first found here in 2003, but said no parts of the animal entered the nation’s food supply.
John Clifford, the USDA’s chief veterinary officer, said there was “no cause for alarm” from the animal, which was found at a rendering plant that processes diseased or sick animals into non-edible products for use in things like soap or glue.
Mad cow, which is believed to cause the deadly brain disease Creutzfeldt-Jakob in humans who eat infected parts from animals with the disease, was first found in the United States in late 2003, causing a nearly $3 billion slump in the nation’s beef exports the following year.
The 2003 case was cause for Japan restricting the import of US beef, restrictions that have recently been raised by the Noda administration.
Food safety is a particular issue for the Japanese, especially in light of the efforts of the Noda administration to join the US-dominated TPP free trade agreement. Although the primary concern for many about the food provisions contained in the TPP center around the issue of unlabeled, genetically modified foods, it should be noted that US beef is one of the products considered part of the GMO regime since US cattle are raised on GMO grains and receive injections of growth hormones and antibiotics. The manner in which US beef are fed is generally thought responsible for the cases of mad cow in the US industry a point confirmed by US officials in this news article.
The carcass of the cow, which the USDA said was infected by an “atypical” form of the disease, would be destroyed. The cow was not believed to have contracted the disease by eating contaminated food, the USDA added.
This would seem to indicate a system with inherent risks, requiring strict regulatory oversight over the industry. Of course, there are safer ways to raise beef for food, but it is much less profitable for the industry, which means that the US beef industry and the US government is willing to accept the risks based solely on the bureaucrats and profit-oriented companies.
Japan’s last experience with a similar safety regimen was the government’s oversight of the nuclear industry. The failure of the regulators and TEPCO, the operator, to simply do their jobs was directly responsible for the extent of the disaster which has affected the entire nation. One wonders if the politically-influenced USDA is any more trustworthy than Japan’s nuclear regulators?
That the TPP forbids the labeling of food products as to their GMO content or even their place of origin takes away the consumers right to know what is in the food or to select products raised and processed without genetic modification. It is special interests like Monsanto and the US beef industry who are pushing the labeling issue. Why? We’ll let the executive of a Monsanto subsidiary explain.
“If you put a label on genetically engineered food you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it.” — Norman Braksick, president of Asgrow Seed Co., a subsidiary of Monsanto, quoted in the Kansas City Star, March 7, 1994
Then there’s this from a Monsanto official.
“Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA’s job.” — Phil Angell, Monsanto’s director of corporate communications, quoted in the New York Times, October 25, 1998
This is the attitude of US companies who want to break down all barriers of the Japanese market. Noda can not claim that he is unaware of this and yet he still pushes the US agenda. Something is seriously wrong in Tokyo.