Plunge Pontificates

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Where's the Beef

So, after only a month, the ban on US beef is back on. Seems that some spinal cord material showed up in a meat shipment to Japan, a big no no. Still, isn't this a wee bit ridiculous? The ONE case of Mad Cow Disease in the US traces back to a Canadian cow for goodness sake. This is nothing more than protectionism for Japanese beef producers. Time for the US to take a harder line.

Following is a pretty good article on the situation sans my thoughts on protectionism.

Japan looks unlikely to soon lift a ban on U.S. beef reimposed after just
one month following the discovery in a shipment from New York of animal parts
that experts consider to be most at risk of spreading mad cow disease.

A U.S. delegation led by Agriculture Undersecretary J.B. Penn discussed
the ban with Japanese authorities in Tokyo on Tuesday and Wednesday but failed
to allay concerns about the reliability of the U.S. food safety system, Japanese
officials said.

U.S. officials have said the shipment by a New York packer of veal with
spinal material, barred under the Japan-U.S. beef trade agreement, was human
error and an isolated case.

That explanation has not satisfied Japanese officials, who note that a
U.S. government inspector at the packing plant, one of about 40 facilities
certified by the U.S. government as eligible beef suppliers to Japan, was
unaware of the violation.

"We want them to reconstruct the inspection system from the beginning,"
Agriculture Minister Shoichi Nakagawa said this week.

Japan could not resume imports until Washington found the cause of the
violation and took measures to prevent a reoccurance, he said.

Now, let's remember, there was no mad cow disease discovered. Yes, the US made a mistake, but the reaction is over the top.

Japan was also annoyed by U.S. remarks that played down the risk of mad
cow disease, which came at a time when the government was under criticism for
appearing to be more concerned about the relationship with Washington than
protecting public health.

"In fact, probably getting out of your automobile and walking into
the store to buy beef, has a higher probability that you'll be hit by an
automobile than ... the probability of any harm coming to you from eating beef,"
Penn had told reporters.

Penn pretty much nailed it on the head.

Again, time for the US to get tougher and end this ridiculous ban.