Saturday :: Apr 16, 2005

HERE'S The Beef!

by pessimist

Back in the 1984 Presidential Primary Campaign, Senator Fritz Mondale quoted actress Clara Peller's famous line from a Wendy's commercial - "Where's the beef?" - when attacking Senator Gary Hart's proposals, successfully as it turned out.

Americans swallow a lot of beef (even the real thing!):

Adjusted for inflation, Americans spent $355 per capita on beef in 1980. In 2001, they spent $200." - Judd Slivka. From "Ranchers a dying breed: West's once-thriving cattle industry suffering." The Arizona Republic (July 15, 2002).

That is an average of 67 pounds per capita.

That's 268 Quarter Pounders for all you Red Staters - roughly one per workday per year.

Because you swallow so much beef, you might want to be aware of the following, provided to the American Beef Industry courtesy of The Best Government Corporate Campaign Contributions Can Buy:

Bush considers easing a rule on the food supply, put in place after first mad cow case

The USDA prohibited all so-called downer cattle — those too sick or injured to walk — from being slaughtered for human food after a Washington state dairy cow was diagnosed with bovine spongiform encephalopathy in December 2003.

This is your brain

Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis has been connected to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease among others. This is NOT A GOOD THING:

Strong evidence indicates that BSE has been transmitted to humans primarily in the United Kingdom, causing a variant form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD). As of December 1, 2003, a total of 153 vCJD cases had been reported worldwide; of these, 143 cases had occurred in the United Kingdom.

As a public service that The Best Government Corporate Campaign Contributions Can Buy no longer wants to provide, The Left Coaster presents our public health warning:

Bovine-CJD: might you already have it? Early warnings: insomnia, memory loss, depression, anxiety, withdrawal, fearfulness.

This is your brain on beef

Sounds like your typical Red Staters - or the entire US Congress.

So why is Bu$hCo willing to sacrifice your health?

Remember what Deep Throat said? "Follow the money"? That's what it's all about:

"The beef industry says more beef is being eaten now than ever. But that's a function of a growing population. Most Americans eat less beef than in 1970; per capita consumption of beef has fallen 11 percent, while chicken consumption has gone up 68 percent, and turkey demand has gone up 74 percent. - Judd Slivka. From "Ranchers a dying breed: West's once-thriving cattle industry suffering." The Arizona Republic (July 15, 2002).

The Beef Industry agrees with this assessment, and provides the motivation for Bu$hCo's actions:

Beef's marketplace dominance in virtually every measurable statistical category has fallen off dramatically since 1975. At the same time, beef's center-of-the-plate competition has wasted no time seizing market share we once held.

The net result? Analysts say that ours is a mature and declining business - and the statistics seem to bear this out. For the better part of 25 years, the beef industry's share of the consumer meat market has been eroding ... and unless something is done to reverse this trend the industry stands to continue its downward slide.

Beef's loss of market share means less profit opportunity for producers. Only through increased consumer expenditures will the flow of dollars increase in the beef system and enhance producer profit opportunities. An 11.9 percent loss of market share since 1980 resulted in a $12.84 billion cost to the industry in 1996 alone. Recovery of half of this lost market share would have meant an increase of $9 per hundredweight in the price of a fed steer in 1996.

One problem is that we need to make money on the whole carcass. Middle meats are increasing in value, but they only comprise 25 percent of the carcass. Trimmings and cuts from the chuck and round, on the other hand, have decreased dramatically in value over the past five years, while making up 66 percent of carcass weight.

Now factor in the complete ban from the market of a diseased animal, and you can begin to see why the cattlemen of America are concerned that we aren't buying their products like we used to. Do they see what the problem is? No:

Consumers perceive beef as inconvenient and difficult to prepare. They’re interested in (and willing to try) new recipes, when they have time. They’re often faced with too many things to do and not enough time to do them all. The solution to the time dilemma is often turning to a meal solution their families can enjoy and that also is quick and easy.

No recognition that consumers aren't interested in eating foods that might cause major health problems - and I'm ignoring for the moment the fat content of beef which began the anti-red meat movement. As the authors of Mad Cow USA [PDF] put it:

The book was released just before the infamous Texas trial of Oprah Winfrey and her guest Howard Lyman for the alleged crime of "food disparagement". It was the livestock feed industry that led the effort in the early 1990s to lobby into law the Texas food disparagement act, and when an uppity Oprah hosted a program in April 1996 featuring rancher-turned vegan activist Howard Lyman, she and her guest became the first people sued for the crime of sullying the good name of beef. Oprah eventually won her lawsuit, but it cost her years of legal battling and millions of dollars. In reality, the public lost, because mainstream media stopped covering the issue of mad cow disease. As one TV network producer told me at the time, his orders were to keep his network from being sued the way Oprah had been.

Our activism won us some interesting enemies, such as Richard Berman, a Republican lobbyist who runs an industry-funded front group that calls itself the Center for Consumer Freedom. Berman is a darling of the tobacco, booze, biotech and food industries, and with their funding he issued an online report depicting us as the ring leaders of a dangerous conspiracy of vegetarian food terrorists out to destroy the U.S. food system.

Of course, he had an easier time attacking us before the emergence of mad cow disease in America. I was saddened but not surprised when mad cow disease was finally discovered in the United States.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture knew more than a decade ago that to prevent mad cow disease in America would require a strict ban on "animal cannibalism," the feeding of rendered slaughterhouse waste from cattle to cattle as protein and fat supplements, but refused to support the ban because it would cost the meat industry money.

When the first North American cow with the disease was found last May [2004] in Canada, I told interviewers that if the disease was in Canada, it would also be found in the United States and Mexico, since all three NAFTA nations are one big free trade zone and all three countries feed their cattle slaughterhouse waste in the form of blood, fat and rendered meat and bone meal.

In fact, calves in North America are literally weaned on milk formula containing "raw spray dried cattle blood plasma" even though scientists have known for many years that blood can transmit mad cow type diseases.
This is why if you try to donate your blood to the Red Cross, you will be rejected if you spent significant time in Britain during the height of its mad cow epidemic. Britain is afraid that humans with mad cow disease may have contaminated the British blood supply, and they do not use its own blood plasma since as yet no test can adequately screen blood for mad cow disease.

Even if Canada does turn out to be the source of America's first case of mad cow disease, numerous questions remain:

* How many other infected cows have crossed our porous borders and been processed into human and animal food?

* Why are America's slaughterhouse regulations so lax that a visibly sick cow was sent into the human food chain weeks before tests came back with the mad cow findings?

* Where did the infected byproduct feed that this animal ate come from, and how many thousands of other animals have eaten similar feed?

And of course, no sick "downer" cows, barely able to move, should be fed to any human.

These are the type of animals most likely to be infected with mad cow and other ailments - although mad cows can also seem completely healthy at the time of slaughter, which is why testing all animals must be the goal.

The feed rules that the United States must adopt can be summarized this way: You might not be a vegetarian, but the animals you eat must be.

But that isn't going to happen under the Reign of King George Cowpuncher:

The USDA works tirelessly to protect beef industry profits at the expense of public health

What's obvious to every thinking person who has paid attention to this issue is that the USDA is acting as a beef marketing branch of the U.S. government, not as an agency tasked with protecting the American public. In fact, Lisa Harrison, the spokeswoman for the Agriculture Secretary, was formerly the director of public relations for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association! It's a clear case of a severe conflict of interest, but it's not at all uncommon. A tremendous number of employees at the USDA and even the FDA come straight from the industries these agencies are supposed to regulate. That's just one of the many reasons why both the USDA and FDA fail so miserably at doing their jobs (protecting the public) while succeeding so strongly in promoting the economic interests of their respective industries.

The USDA is protecting the profits of industry, not public health. And chances are, some American consumers are going to pay the price for it. My best advice: stop eating cow flesh.

I have to add my endorsement to this warning.

I know it's hard to change your eating habits, especially when those hamburger commercials make you forget the latest bovine spongiform encephalitis warnings with their luscious and lascivious subliminal advertising techniques. You know as well as I do that these techniques work very well, or else Al Gore would be President.

But it is impossible to cure BSE or the human diseases it causes. Which would you rather deal with?

You will be the one to deal with this dilemma, for as I point out above, you are of concern to Bu$hCo and their contributors only to the extent that you provide profits. You and your health are of no concern whatsoever.

Copyrighted source material contained in this article is presented under the provisions of Fair Use.


This article contains copyrighted material, the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. I am making such material available in my efforts to advance understanding of democracy, economic, environmental, human rights, political, scientific, and social justice issues, among others. I believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material in this article is distributed without profit for research and educational purposes.

pessimist :: 9:00 AM :: Comments (17) :: Digg It!