The USDA on Mad Cow: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.


Photo credit: Welt Online

In case you missed it, here’s the USDA’s two-pronged approach to containing mad cow disease:

1. There are no mad cows.
2. Lalalaalalaalalalalaalala.

Although the nattering nabobs of negativity might suggest that, perhaps, it might be a good idea to verify claim #1, the USDA has recently had its Mad Cow Disease vindicated in federal court. Last week, a federal court sided with the USDA in a case involving a small-scale beef producer who wanted to test more than 1% of its livestock for BSE. The federal ruling is this: you aren’t allowed to test for Mad Cow Disease unless the USDA lets you.

The argument turned on whether testing dead animals for Mad Cow disease might be considered a treatment. If it were a therapeutic treatment, it’d fall under the USDA’s domain.

A federal judge had previously ruled that, since the cows were dead, it seemed clear enough that testing them from mad cow disease couldn’t really be considered a treatment since, despite scientific progress, death remains fatal.

Judge Karen L. Henderson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said that diagnosis might be considered part of treatment… “And we owe USDA a considerable degree of deference in its interpretation of the term.”

This rather odd generosity toward the USDA might be related to the pressure placed through the Bush administration by large meat-packers, who’d rather not test their livestock. And it seems that in the wake of revelations that Department of Justice staff were chosen along ideological lines, surprise!, as if federal judges are rather susceptible to pressure from the Bush administration.

Via Laura Carlsen.