Canadian Cattle Industry Sues Government

The cattle industry is serious business in Canada (and the States). You don’t want to mess around with them. I mean they comport themselves more like spoiled children than a legitimate industry, pushing people around for making their anti-meat views known. If the cattle industry are children, then the accommodating parents are the government, as will become apparent. As I recall, the Canadian industry took issue with k.d. Lang for making her vegetarian views publicly known in a television ad (The “Meat Stinks [1]” campaign); I believe the issue was alleged lost profits due to the supposed “smear campaign”. I recall Oprah [2] also was accused of negatively affecting profits, by the industry’s American counter-part. Well, the Montreal Gazette reported that the Quebec cattle industry is taking the Canadian government to court [3] for mishandling the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) outbreaks (something about gross negligence). Considering that it is scientifically proven that the outbreak is due to the recycling of body parts as feed, and that it’s the Canadian cattle industry that practised this, not the Canadian government, who’s fault is it that Canadian sales plumited?

In a public notice in response to BSE [4], the Canadian Food Inspection Agency states,”the Government of Canada, through Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), have responded to the challenges presented by developing a comprehensive suite of internationally recognized, science-based measures to effectively minimize the likelihood of exposure, amplification and spread of BSE within the cattle population and to protect consumers from the associated human health risks.”. Notice that they refer to “minimizing” rather than “eliminating” risks.

The government re-regulated the practice but rather than eliminating the source (the transmission) of the problem (the practice), they allow recycling to continue with low risk body parts, what doesn’t fall under what they call the “Specified Risk Materials” (SRM [5]) umbrella. Cattle under the age of 30 months, do not “show signs” of the infective agent and this is why continued recycling of body parts under the 30 month guideline is allowed (friends in the cattle industry have confirmed this). Well … considering that BSE infective agents are proteins called prions, which degrade other proteins with which they come into contact, why continue recycling feed and even run the risk of continued exposure –however statistically low this chance may be? Why not take a moral stance and just outlaw the entire practice of recycling parts? … Unless you’re looking after profits rather than the public’s health or their confidence.

The government facilitates large profit margins by allowing recycled body bits as feed, with animals that aren’t even meat eaters. The cost savings in feed must be very attractive, but the resulting practice is analogous to humans eating humans (the moral stance). At the very least, it doesn’t sound hygienic.

What we have here is a pushy industry that has the government wrapped around their fingers, that goes into temper tantrums when they come into problems as a result of their own negligent practises, at which point they demand compensation from a government that does little else but look after business’ profit margins –via permissive regulations– when the first and only concern should be public safety. In the end it’s the Canadian taxpayer that pays the bill, one way or the other, be it in the way of a weakened economy due to international embargoes and resulting monetary compensation to ranchers, or –the powers that be forbid– public health (developing a variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD [6]) thought to be the result of consuming “Mad Cow meat”.

I’m not a vegan (of any sort). I like my my meat, all kinds. I just wish I had confidence in those nice shiny red cuts sitting in my local Canadian stores (and I also believe in freedom of speech). I have a saying that might be in order, “If you can’t keep your head above water without resorting to immorality and cutting corners, maybe you shouldn’t be in business”. And don’t look at the Canadian taxpayer for a free ride.

Maurice Cepeda

UPDATES: And now the Canadian industry is suing the American government [7] too.

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For more information on the matter, read Sean Henahan’s interview [8] with the Dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine of the University of California Davis, Dr. Frederick A. Murphy, although he feels confident in eating American beef because, “the BSE prion has never been found in our country”.

Gee, if we apply critical thinking, “Just because something is not found does not mean it could not be there”. Or rather, this is like saying, “If you can’t substantiate something, it does NOT exist and WILL not exist” and analogous to stating that sub-atomic particles could not possibly exist because one can’t observe them with one’s eyes. To my reasoning, the only way to assure that this WILL not exist is by banning animal cannibalism outright –no loop-holes as with the 30 month rule.

Yes, but the counter argument could be, “We may not see these particles but we are able to observe their effects, and in this manner we know they exist. Similarly, “If Mad Cow disease was present in the States, we would observe their effects (ergo, cows would be getting sick)”.

True enough, if you don’t consider the incubation period, which if I recall could take a couple or a few decades (in humans; I don’t recall what this might be in cattle).

Sean Henahan should know better than this, and his statements about his confidence in American beef rings like a paid endorsement, rather than an unbiased scientific statement. But then again, science does talk about a risk/benefit ratio. Meaning, the risky behaviour of recycling cattle discard as feed –which is identified as the mechanism by the contagion is transmitted continues– but because the contagion has not yet been identified as present in American cattle, the risk of humans is low, especially via the new guidelines (30 month rule and avoidance of high risk materials). Therefore, American beef is safe to eat. This is Henahan’s logic, as I understand it. I have to admit I’m still eat beef.
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A new study [9] by Yale School of Medicine researchers suggests that there is a virus behind Mad Cow disease and that prions are not infectious, which totally goes against the normative scientific understanding. Even so, this does not redeem animal cannibalism as the primary mode of transmission.

This is licensed under the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported Creative Commons License [10]. All brands mentioned are properties of their respective owners. By reading this article, the reader forgoes any accountability of the writer. The reading of this article implies acceptance of the above stipulations. The author requires attribution –by full name and URL– and notification of republications.

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