Politicking Till the Cows Come Home


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The Bushites and their corporate sponsors are quick to demand that "science, not politics," should be the sole basis for making regulatory policies. Of course, the question is: Whose science---the corporate-funded "science," or the genuine product of independent scientists?

For example, after a Mad Cow outbreak last December, a panel of international scientists was convened by Ag Secretary Ann Veneman to review America's beef production system. She expected the panel to rubber stamp the beef industry myth that America has no real Mad Cow problem and that our safety rules are more than adequate.

But--Holy Big Mac!--the panel found that Mad Cow disease is common in our cattle herds, that USDA's voluntary tracking system is grossly inadequate, and that the meat industry's method of feeding rendered hogs, chickens, and other animals to cattle is inherently unsafe. It called for a major strengthening of the regulatory system.

The Bushites and industry respond to this scientific finding by playing politics. Industry lobbyists blindly reiterated the absurd claim that Mad Cow "poses no risk to consumers," decried the scientists' report as "negative in tone," and asserted that the best policy was not to get regulators involved, but "letting the industry address these things."

The Bushites bowed to the politics, stiffing the science...and us. Why? Because they are the industry. Secretary Veneman previously was a corporate agribusiness lawyer and lobbyist??and now her chief of staff, her top spokeswoman, and the head of her agency's regulatory programs all came from top positions in the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the industry's main lobbying front.

Did I mention that meat processors and corporate cattle operators have put nearly a million bucks into Bush's presidential campaign? The Bushites can talk about "science" till the cows come home, but their policies are all about politics.

"Mad Cow Is the Symptom," The Progressive. February 8, 2004

Jim Hightower
Hightower & Associates
1802 W. 6th Street
Austin, TX 78703
[email protected]


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