The discovery of mad cow disease in Washington state has had predictable results. Since the U.S. Department of Agriculture's December 23 announcement of the discovery of an infected cow, more than two dozen countries have banned U.S. beef imports. American beef industry groups warn that a looming "consumer confidence crisis" at home could cripple the $65 billion-per-year industry.
To quell the growing rumors, the USDA has issued a press release designed to "separate fact from fiction."
Echoing USDA Secretary Ann Veneman's assertion that "our goal is to see trade resume as quickly as possible," the January 5 press release corrects the "Top Ten" inaccuracies noted in recent reports.
The "Top Ten Countdown" is as follows:
- #10: It is not true that the infected cow was born in Canada. She was actually born in North Korea, but Canada is much less likely to use nuclear weapons in retaliation for verbal attacks by the U.S.
#9: It is not true that the infected cow was a "downer," a term used for cows unable to walk due to illness or injury. In fact, she was usually so high on speed that she was consistently voted "most uppity upper" in the herd.
#8: It is not true that the infected cow was slaughtered on December 9 and processed into the food supply before the mad cow test results were completed on December 22. She actually died after the USDA's December 23 announcement, which proves the agency is proactive to a fault.
#7: It is not true that the infected cow was born before the 1997 "feed ban," which cautions factory farm operators not to feed beef slaughterhouse waste to cattle. Nor is it true that the cow was born after 1997, as has also been reported. In fact, she never existed, and this whole mad cow scare is a vast left-wing conspiracy.
#6: It is not true that the U.S. government was warned repeatedly over the past decade of the risk of mad cow disease appearing in this country due to contaminated feed, inadequate testing, and other industry practices. The fact is that such naysayers as Consumers Union, the Congressional General Accounting Office, and Nobel laureate Dr. Stanley Prusiner are a bunch of flaky gadflies who simply want their 15 minutes of fame.
#5: It is not true that people might become ill even if they only eat "muscle meat" in their beef, as recommended by the USDA. The fact is that although mad cow disease attacks the brain and spinal cord, these parts of the body have nothing whatsoever to do with other parts, and indeed, any mammal can function perfectly well without a central nervous system.
#4: It is not true that the U.S. beef industry is considering giving up its slogan "Beef: It's What's For Dinner." Some vegetarian activists had secretly infiltrated industry lobbying groups and had tried to change the slogan to "What? Beef For Dinner?!?" Their efforts were thwarted when the spies were identified and shot.
#3: It is not true that the USDA is changing its name to the United States Department of Agribusiness. The agency does not favor the interests of big business over the health and safety of ordinary American citizens, any more than any other agency or branch of the federal government does under the Bush Administration.
#2: It is not true that USDA Secretary Veneman is changing her name to Venison. Such a change would cast aspersions on the beef industry. "I'd sooner change it to Venomous," the Secretary said.
#1: It is not true that the USDA is reluctant to require use of "rapid tests" for mad cow disease. In fact, the fastest "rapid test," which takes only a few seconds to check the whites of a cow's eyes for shades of green, is too dangerous to use. As explained in the agency's press release: "Never look a cow in the eyes. It makes them mad."