Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A MOO-vable Feast

The Toronto Star reported the finding of another case of 'mad cow' disease in a British Columbia animal. They would have us believe that's nothing too unusual since they've tested 200 000 animals for holes in the head since the first notorious case showed up few years back.

Remarkable what a few years and a little testing will do! For that first case revolutionized the beef farming and packing industries in Canada. In fact it almost destroyed them. If memory serves, that incident originated in two Canadian animals found on American farms and resulted in a two-year freeze of the import of Canadian beef in a number of world markets.

So we have to believe that the original brouhaha was contrived - for some reason. Or that the current situation is being downplayed ... because the disease remains fairly significant in effect, debated in causality, and medically incurable.

Suppose it was the first. A trade 'problem' - cheap Canadian beef imports - was resolved by stoppage. American farmers selling 'safe' expensive beef had their market clear. A spin-off result was the opportunity to capitalize on a weakened Canadian meat-packing industry for some heavy-duty market-cornering. There are far fewer packing operators in Canada now than there were at the start of the crisis and the larger ones are American-owned. A second opportunity saw a significant market shift from farmers to beef 'investors' when packing houses bought out beef herds at fire sale prices, or less, and then paid farmers to pasture the animals with funds the government so generously provided to assist those possessing less-than-marketable beef herds. The beef industry has been changed.

How about downplaying the 'crisis'? That sounds plausible too, for the last thing the government wants is more trade problems, or a repeat of the farmer fiasco of last time. The beef industry wants Canadians to know that the meat supply is 'safe' - uncontaminated. By extension the world market should be thinking that if it's safe enough for Canadians to eat well - gosh darn it...

It's disconcerting to know that, after all the problems the disease has caused, and that the cause of it is claimed to be so clear - unless that's something else we're not being told - that somebody, somewhere, still thinks filling-out the feed with some meat products is a sensible thing to do. Tell ya, if the guy's name was Abdul, CSIS and the National Security apparatus would be hut-hutting all over him and his attempted 'terrorism'. If it's just an incident, or three, on BC farms, well, what the heck, we caught it before it got into your Big Mac, so feel free to dine-out tonight,eh?

Another thing we're not told is the incidence of Creuzfeld-Jacob Syndrome in Canada. Granted there seems to be a genetic causality to it, but the statistics would indicate if there could be some cases arising from tainted meat products. But who wants to go where the Brits have been? It's not a happy place and there aren't more spongiforms than there are dope-induced psychotics and aged-impaired dodderers, so why let it upset anybody. Unless you're one of the 'lucky lottery winners'.

It strikes me if there were only three cases this year, how come there were no cases last year? Somebody just didn't start thinking to mix some mutton into the chop? Did they? I bet it's because of how many animals they chose for testing. Last year there weren't any positives tested. This year they 'lucked out' with three. But that doesn't mean there might not have been more - this year, or last.

If testing, as is claimed, can keep infected meat out of the supply chain, then every animal should be tested. The peace of mind would be worth the few mills added to the price of a kilo of beef. And it would make Canada look like it took food safety seriously. Malheureusement it could be that they have relatives of the security people running the food safety organizations too - 'smarts' like that tend to be genetic.

In to-day's world food shortages have the potential of making somebody eat anything to survive. But there's no excuse for that in Canada, yet. Let's get moo-ving on mad cows.

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