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"N.Y. Times" Already Quoting Cebull's Inaccuracies PDF Print E-mail
Written by Steve Dittmer   
Monday, 21 March 2005

Key Beef Industry Issue Further Taken Over By Judicial System

One of the fears we expressed when Judge Richard Cebull issued his horribly sensational injunction opinion was that the mass media would pick up on it and start quoting his opinion.

It didn't take long for this to happen. The New York Times has already published an editorial, quoting Cebull and indicating they have been sucked into Cebull's and R-CALF's misleading science and unpracticed understanding of international trade. The worst of this is that the Times is making proclamations based on ideology, not science or facts, and their wire service is picked up by hundreds of papers across the country.

The Times editorial ridicules USDA's efforts to establish international trade of under-30-month cattle from countries with minimal risk as, "based on a hope and a wish." It quotes Cebull's regurgitations of R-CALF's claims of "catastrophic damages" and "genuine risk of death," just as if these were facts, instead of sensationalist claims made in a legal brief attempting to scare a judge.

The Times also misreads Japan's evaluation of the situation, claiming as R-CALF does, that opening the border to Canadian cattle under 30-months will automatically cause the Japanese to keep our exports out. Instead, as those involved in the negotiations have pointed out, the opposite is true. Any indication by the U.S. that it does not trust young Canadian cattle creates mistrust and confusion among Japanese government officials and consumers. In fact, the negotiations were going along sedately, bolstered by the fact that Canadian boxed beef was flowing nicely through our system, because everyone knows the beef is safe. That is until R-CALF raised unwarranted questions.

So R-CALF's legal gymnastics have succeeded in throwing a monkey wrench into the Canadian border trade and the Japanese export trade. The "bonuses" are that R-CALF is now the godfather of the Canadian packing industry expansion, has damaged U.S. packers large and small and is the catalyst for the largest and most determined effort Canada has ever made to compete with us in the world market.

Thanks to R-CALF, Canada's biggest nightmare has been prolonged far beyond what was necessary. But in the long-term, R-CALF could have helped propel Canada's beef chain development efforts farther and faster than would have happened in decades without their interference.

The Times claims that Japan is requiring the U.S. to prove it is free of mad cow. We haven't heard that and that is not the issue. The issue is that the beef exported to Japan be free of BSE - and that we can guarantee. Specified Risk Material (SRM) removal, tailored to the age of the animal, is internationally recognized as yielding safe beef, even if by some unlikely chance an animal actually had BSE. The OIE has even stated that it does not recommend against importing beef from countries with a high BSE risk. The SRM removal renders the country's BSE status a moot point.

Yet R-CALF continues to ignore that fact. Instead it is trying to get people to believe SRM removal is ineffective. On top of that, R-CALF wants people to believe Canada is really a high-risk country - another U.K. - and that no one else but R-CALF has figured it out yet.

To prove that the Times has bought into R- CALF's furthest stretches for obstacles to throw in the path of imports, the Times said that the only way to resume international trade is to test all cattle.

Even worse, the Times implies that there is no feed ban in place, by calling for an "end to the feeding practices that can spread mad cow disease." The feed ban was instituted in 1997 but the New York Times is unaware of that fact. But ignorance of the facts does not keep the Times from telling everyone how to solve their problems. Add that to the lawyers and judges already in the mix, and it means science and verified facts get buried even deeper under a growing pile of misinformation, hyperbole and short-sighted obstructionism.

Which is just what American consumers or the beef industry does not need.

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Last Updated ( Saturday, 24 June 2006 )
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