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There are reports this morning that the Bush administration, through the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), will challenge a federal court ruling that would allow meatpackers to test their own products for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) commonly known as "mad cow disease.” The ruling came in a case brought by a small meat packer, Creekstone Farms Premium Beef, which wants to do its own testing.

The USDA will argue that such private tests could create so-called “false positives” that could alarm the public. In addition, USDA is siding with larger meat packers, which apparently feel that they will be at a competitive disadvantage if they don’t do the same kind of testing as Creekstone.

The US currently tests less than one percent of the nation’s cows for BSE.
KC's View:
This isn’t as much about false positives and false negatives, and the USDA trying to protect itself from the embarrassment of finding out that just maybe it has been underestimating the level of mad cow disease in the US. The Bush administration isn’t taking the scientific approach, but rather a “CYA” approach that has far more to do with commerce – and its efforts, we believe, in the long run will not be good for consumers, for the meat industry, or even public confidence in the government.