Filed Under: Mad Cow Disease

The Mad Cow Scare: Day Six

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and other authorities continue to assure us that our meat supply is safe — and it appears that Americans believe them. Cheeseburger sales at fast-food restaurants seem unaffected. But if there’s a chance for scaremongering about the American meat supply, you can count on zealots within the niche-market organic industry to feed unfounded fears. Michael Greger, who edits the mad-cow-scare web page of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), is planning to hit the lecture circuit in an effort to “keep hammering” the meat industry and “keep this momentum going.” Meanwhile, OCA president
Ronnie Cummins
is deliberately misleading the American people about mad cow disease in a transparent effort to steer them toward pricey organic options.

Today’s Christian Science Monitor quotes Cummins saying: “Certified organic beef has become the new gold standard for safety.” He continues: “The fact that there has never been a single organically grown cow [that has] come down with mad cow in England, France, the US or Canada is pretty telling.”

This is deliberate distortion. In 2001, Germany’s first case of mad cow disease was discovered in a small slaughterhouse that catered exclusively to organic growers. So why would Cummins craft his list of organic mad-cow-free countries so carefully? Because the Center for Consumer Freedom caught him in June when he falsely declared: “no case of mad cow has ever been found in a cow raised on an organic farm.”

Ronnie Cummins believes that American consumers “aren’t smart enough to know what they want.” Based on the facts, of course, most of us won’t pay hefty premiums for organic meat. So Cummins wants to bring about general panic. In 2001 he openly wished that a U.S. case of mad-cow disease would inspire a British-style “crisis of confidence” in the American food supply — to bring about “a new era of sustainable living and organic agriculture.” That’s the only way he can achieve his goal of getting consumers to pay “twice as much for their meat.”

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