Sunday, January 22, 2006

No beef with Japan

Who said the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has no backbone? They do. Unfortunately, it's in the wrong place. Ask the Japanese:
Japan announced Friday it would hold all American beef at ports until the U.S. delivers a report on how prohibited cattle backbone got into a shipment from Atlantic Veal & Lamb Inc. The measure came two weeks after Tokyo lifted a two-year ban on U.S. beef imports.


Once the most lucrative market for American beef, Japan imposed a blanket ban on imports in December 2003 after mad cow disease was first discovered in a U.S. cow.

The ban was lifted Dec. 12, but only for meat from cows ages 20 months or younger, which are believed unlikely to have the disease. The deal excluded spines, brains, bone marrow and other cattle parts thought to be at high risk of containing the ailment. (AP via Yahoo)
Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi, a US sock puppet, was coming under increasing criticism for caving to American cattle interests applied through the Bush Administration:
Japan imported about $1.4 billion worth of U.S. beef in 2003. It was unclear how much the country bought after lifting the ban, but a Kyodo News survey last month showed 75 percent of Japanese were unwilling to eat American beef even if imports resumed.

Criticism was also directed at Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's government for too hastily resuming imports.

"The government bowed to U.S. pressure and put President Bush's wishes ahead of the safety of Japanese consumers. I consider that a huge error of judgment," said Yukio Hatoyama, secretary-general of the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan.

Koizumi ordered the resumption of imports based on recommendations made by an expert panel after several U.S. officials, including Bush, expressed growing impatience with the ban.

The premier has defended the decision, saying it was based on scientific grounds.
I don't know what "scientific grounds" Koizumi was referring to, but if based on the likelihood of neural tissues winding up in the Japanese beef supply they got it wrong. But since we know what kind of "science" the Bush Administration likes (the kind that comes up with their answers), maybe Koizumi is telling the truth. It was based on "Bush science."

Meanwhile, the eventual result of paying lip service to "sound science" while simultaneously ignoring it is going to cost Bush's cattle baron patrons dearly in the Japanese export market. Maybe they don't care, because they can sell their potentially tainted beef here to fast food chains. Who knows?

But if they keep this up and BSE appears again in US animals (or worse, people), they'll soon find that burgers will be rare.