Let’s just remind ourselves of some recent history:
In 2001, Australia banned the importation of beef and beef products from Japan after a single confirmed case of BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy). The USA and many other countries also banned beef imports from Japan.
In 2003, BSE cases caused Australia to ban importing beef from Canada, and then beef from the USA as well. Japan, which had been America’s biggest export beef market, also banned imports from the USA, along with a host of other countries.
In December 2005, after huge pressure from the US Dept of Agriculture, Japan lifted that ban on the importation of US beef. In January 2006, that ban was reimposed due to renewed saftey concerns about American meat processing. South Korea partially lifted their ban on US beef imports in early 2006, but an import violation last week has now thrown that market into doubt.
Despite BSE scares leading to a drop in beef consumption worldwide, the import bans on US beef have been good news for beef producers in Australia, New Zealand and Brazil especially who have stepped into the supply gap for beef imports worldwide, but obviously it has made life difficult for the American beef farmer.
So what is the USDA (Dept of Agriculture) doing to ensure the Confidence of American consumers in domestic beef rather than foreign beef? They’re taking all the basic precautions with SRMs (specified risk materials), certainly. But what happens when a small meatpacking company wants to certify its beef as having had a higher level of safety testing/inspections than those mandated by the USDA, in order to give its product an edge in a competitive market and give consumers more choice? Does the USDA encourage such innovation and customer service?
The Agriculture Department tests fewer than 1 percent of slaughtered cows for the disease, which can be fatal to humans who eat tainted beef. A beef producer in the western state of Kansas, Creekstone Farms Premium Beef, wants to test all of its cows.
Larger meat companies feared that move because, if Creekstone should test its meat and advertised it as safe, they might have to perform the expensive tests on their larger herds as well.
The Agriculture Department regulates the test and argued that widespread testing could lead to a false positive that would harm the meat industry. . . .
If anyone needed more signs that the US Government is in thrall to corporations above citizens, add this to your list. A company’s free choice to add value to its product, in a way that will benefit consumers rather than harm them, is being constrained. And what about the highly touted, indeed almost sacred, principles of free market competition? How is this not an act of restraint of trade, exactly the sort of act which is against US Anti-Trust legislation, which is meant to protect smaller businesses from unfair competitive practices from larger businesses?
Ralph Nader had a point when he said that both the Republicans and the Democrats were branches of the Corporate Party. The trend for the same in Australia with the converging platforms of the Liberals/Nationals coalition and the Labor party is certainly arguable.
So who/what in either country, or anywhere around the world, is going to be the new Citizen party to counteract the Corporate parties? How will they get off the ground?