Granny Rant
Wednesday, January 28, 2004
::: Let Them Eat Clones :::

Ho hum ...
Well -- now we learn we may soon be fed with cloned animals ... terrific idea, Yea? Or Nah?

Who knows anymore?

We have recently been treated to the knowledge that our current food supply
(up until a week or so ago) included "downer" cattle. Those are the cattle
either too sick or too injured to hobble to the slaughterhouse axe.
Since the histrionics over the Lone Mad Cow in America, I have read many a TMI
(too much info) article concerning the "pieces / parts" included in our food,
or some that have now been banned and will only be used for feed for "other
animals" ... uh, reckon that means our beloved pets?

Can you imagine the lengthy Q & A sessions I have had to endure with my Four
Rotten Cats and A Fat Dog. My felines surf the net constantly for the latest
on politics and all the other "if it bleeds it leads" stuff and occasionally they are
allowed to do a blog entry.

The cats are especially interested in the "celeb trials," but I refuse to allow them
to post on those subjects. I insist on hi-tone pieces. Huge fights have ensued ...
and I am positive you have noticed the paw prints on some of these pages ...
they insist on signing their work. Is Pet Posting ok in the RTB?

Don't worry, I never allow the Dog to post ... Gaby is pretty much computer
illiterate. Plus there have been too many instances of kitty porn left hanging
on the screen in an attempt to put the cats in a bad light and in hopes I will fall for
the scam and throw the cats out in the cold.

Not gonna happen ... everyone knows Dogs Drool and Cats Rule!

Anyway, back to eating clones and sick cattle. Proceed at your own risk ... pretty awful.

The Realities of Meat Inspection ... Yuck!

What the cattlemen detest most is the meat inspection system. The story of how Upton Sinclair muckraked the slaughterhouses some one hundred years ago and Teddy Roosevelt jumped in and fixed them all up is pretty much fiction. The simple fact is the meat inspection system isn't any good and anybody who even attempts to stand up to the Big Boy ranchers does so at his or her peril. Look what happened to Bill Lehman, who throughout the early 1990s worked as a meat inspector at Sweetgrass, Montana, a busy port of entry for Canadian beef. By his own count, Lehman himself rejected "up to 2.3 million pounds of contaminated or mislabeled imports annually." The reasons, according to Lehman, included "pus-filled abscesses, sticky layers of bacteria leaving a stench, obvious fecal contamination, stains, metal shavings, blood, bruises, hair, hide, chemical residues, salmonella, added substances, and advanced disease symptoms."

After some children died from an E. coli outbreak in the 90s, Lehman told about his work: "I merely walk to the back of the truck. That's all I'm allowed to do. Whether there's boxed meat or carcasses in the truck, I can't touch the boxes. I can't open the boxes. I can't use a flashlight. I can't walk into the truck. I can only look at what is visible in the back of the trailer." He told one interviewer how he did his inspections: "I've just inspected over 80,000 pounds of meat (boxed beef rounds and boxed boneless beef briskets) on two trucks. I wasn't running or hurrying either. One was bound for Santa Fe Springs, California, the other for San Jose, California. I just stamped on their paperwork 'U.S.D.A. Inspected and Passed' in 45 seconds."

More horrible realities ...
But Lehman was far from the only critic. "Adequate inspection on the border has been lacking for years, said Mike Callicrate, an outspoken Kansas rancher, especially on the topic of the U.S.D.A.'s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

What many people don't understand is how minimal meat inspection is. Here's a typical instance, described by an Iowa farmer: He buys cows or heifers at auction, where they have been certified as having met health requirements -- not because of first-hand inspection but because of the seller's history as a "good guy." The farmer proceeds to feed the cattle corn, sometimes with a vegetable-based additive, and in two years sells them to a feed lot or maybe a local butcher. There is no check on the health of the animals. Approval for sale is again based on the history of the farm. What about sick cows? Say a cow falls down -- he's called a "downer." According to this farmer, a vendor often is called; he'll send a truck to pick up the animal, kill it (if it is still alive), and sell the parts into the meat system. If the farmer spots a sick cow in his herd, he gets rid of it quick as he can. He doesn't go through the rigmarole of testing it through a veterinarian, which takes time and costs money. He just gets rid of the animal and keeps mum about what happened.

Slaughterhouse work is low paid and extremely dangerous
The beef industry is more centralized. The actual economics of beef production are determined not by any free market, but by a highly concentrated industry. Four meatpackers -- IBP, ConAgra, Excel (a subsidiary of Cargill), and National Beef -- control 85 percent of the market. Work in the slaughterhouses can be extremely dangerous, and it's hardly worth it.

Seems Bill Clinton did the cattle ranchers a solid.
This screwed-up system does produce the desired results once in a while: Bad meat is found and then recalled. Or is it?

A study by the Center for Public Integrity, a D.C. watchdog group, found that only 43 percent of all meat products recalled by their manufacturers from 1990-1997 was recovered. The rest of the meat -- some 17 million pounds -- was eaten by unsuspecting consumers. Yet Congress fought off efforts by the Secretary of Agriculture during that time to get the authority to issue mandatory recalls of contaminated meat.

The investigation found that during the 1990s the highly exclusive meat business spent $41 million financing political campaigns of Congress members, more than one third of them from House or Senate agriculture committees. Among them: the majority and minority leaders of the Senate (Trent Lott and Tom Daschle), the speaker of the House and the House minority leader (Newt Gingrich and Dick Gephardt), and six past or present chairmen or ranking minority members of the Senate and House agriculture committees.

The cattle industry during that period employed 124 lobbyists to work the Hill, 28 of them previously either lawmakers or aides to lawmakers. And it worked. "During the escalating public health crisis of the past decade," the Center reported, "the food industry has managed to kill every bill that has promised meaningful reform." In lieu of any serious rulemaking, the Clinton administration struck a weak-ass deal with the industry to allow cattlemen to do their own inspections and label their records "trade secrets" so the public can't look at them.

There is more ... but that is just about all I can handle. Click on in there and see if
you can make it through the entire piece ... the run out for a burger.

May have to relent and allow the dog to post kitty porn after all.


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