And herein lies the problem: the USDA is an agency known for caving in to industry pressure. In fact, it's more of a marketing branch for agriculture than a regulatory department, because when it comes to making hard choices between industry profits and consumer health risk, the USDA always seems to side with industry profits. That's where the Food Guide Pyramid came from, by the way: it's a great way to promote the sale and consumption of grains, which occupy the largest section of the pyramid even though the consumption of grains and carbohydrates is clearly linked to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
But back to cattle: countries around the world -- like Japan and the U.K. -- are demanding that the U.S. do the obvious and test every cow for mad cow disease, like other civilizations nations already do. The U.S. has so far refused, and so Japan and other countries say they simply won't import U.S. beef until a testing policy is put into place.
The dynamic here remind me of the current U.S. effort to derail the efforts by the World Health Organization to fight obesity around the world by recommending that people consume less sugar. This suggestion earned the ire of the Bush Administration, which is closely tied to the Big Sugar industry in the U.S. Representatives from Washington are arguing that sugar doesn't cause obesity at all, and in fact there's no proof of any negative health consequences of eating sugar, and thus recommending that people eat less sugar is bad policy, says the Bush administration.
And thus, with the Big Sugar debate and the mad cow fiasco, the U.S. takes center stage yet again as a country led by bumbling idiots who understand neither science nor health, and who quite predictably put politics above sanity at every turn. God bless America.