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From: TSS (
Subject: Washington farmer recounts mad cow case
Date: September 7, 2004 at 8:37 pm PST

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Washington farmer recounts mad cow case
Date: Tue, 7 Sep 2004 22:38:09 -0500
From: "Terry S. Singeltary Sr."
Reply-To: Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy

######## Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy #########

September 8, 2004

Washington farmer recounts mad cow case

Special to the Post

Veterinarian and dairy farmer Bill Wavrin, 43, remembers well the day he
learned that one of his cows was the first cow in the United States to
test positive for BSE or mad cow disease.

“ The excruciating part was not knowing how it was going to go,” said
Wavrin from his home in Washington State’s Yakima Valley. “That stretch
where we didn’t know how many cows we would lose and what it would cost
us was tough.”

When it was over, Wavrin had not only been indemnified for his losses
but also had only positive things to say about the way he had been
treated. “Our State and Federal agencies charged with protecting our
herds [and our customers] are able and committed,” he said. “They wanted
to make sure that we were treated fairly.” That’s quite a compliment
from somebody who had to have help from law enforcement to remove the
reporters from his lawn.

Wavrin remembered that, “There were literally miles of video vans and
trucks with satellite dishes along the road to our house. That’s not the
kind of attention a farmer craves.”

The Yakima Valley is an oasis of irrigated green in an otherwise arid
landscape in the rain shadow of the Cascade Mountains to the west.
Wavrin, his brother Sid, and their mother, Donna, produce feed on 2,500
acres of the valley to feed the 3,200 cows they milk. On top of that,
Wavrin has his large-animal veterinary practice. Long hours are the
order of the day.

Three hours after Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman’s announcement
that a cow had tested positive for BSE, the phone began to ring at
Wavrin’s home. Those long hours were about to get longer.

“ A USDA rep and the State Vet came that night. They wanted to know
where that cow came from,” Wavrin recalled.

Later, the Food and Drug Administration would also be involved. They
came to check on feeding practices and to verify that the 1997 feed ban
had been honored. It had.

Inventories were checked and then a quarantine was enforced. The
different agencies cooperated, and each seemed concerned about making
sure the Wavrins were involved.

For Wavrin, there was never any question about cooperating. “Like most
producers, I am very proud of the quality and safety of the food we
produce.” He is also a strong supporter of the current USDA BSE testing
program. “In light of these events, I find it reasonable for my
customers to request this burden of proof,” he said, adding, “Anything
we learn will benefit both of us.”

As a veterinarian, Wavrin understands the ramifications of the BSE
testing program better than most. “If it is present, we need to know. I
don’t think it pays to hide from this,” he said. “Suspect animals need
to be tested.”

When Wavrin talks about “suspect animals” he means those that are dead,
down, or disoriented. USDA reports that the most scientifically reliable
way to chase down any possible trace of BSE is to test older cattle that
fall into those three categories.

The success of the testing program depends, in part, on producers
calling the toll-free number to report those animals so they can be
tested. That number is 1-866-536-7593. The costs involved with sampling
the animal will be covered by the USDA.

The agency understands that reassuring consumers, reassuring trading
partners, and protecting America’s herd are vitally important.

“ We must all participate for this program to be effective,” said Wavrin.

At the edge of the Yakima Valley, the irrigated fields give way to the
browns and tans of the sagebrush that covers the slopes of the
surrounding hills. On the Wavrin farm, the schedule has returned to the
normal long hours.


> For Wavrin, there was never any question about cooperating. “Like most
> producers, I am very proud of the quality and safety of the food we
> produce.” He is also a strong supporter of the current USDA BSE
> testing program. “In light of these events, I find it reasonable for
> my customers to request this burden of proof,” he said, adding,
> “Anything we learn will benefit both of us.”
> As a veterinarian, Wavrin understands the ramifications of the BSE
> testing program better than most. “If it is present, we need to know.
> I don’t think it pays to hide from this,” he said. “Suspect animals
> need to be tested.”
> When Wavrin talks about “suspect animals” he means those that are
> dead, down, or disoriented. USDA reports that the most scientifically
> reliable way to chase down any possible trace of BSE is to test older
> cattle that fall into those three categories.

I am sure that there are others like Wavrin out there,
but here is the problem;



What has happened in USDA goes beyond a process of capture intended to
restrict competition.
Thanks to its political influence, Big Agribusiness has been able to
pack USDA with appointees who
have a background of working in the industry, lobbying for it, or
performing research or other functions
on its behalf. These appointees have helped to implement policies that
undermine the regulatory
mission of USDA in favor of the bottom-line interests of agribusiness.
In other words, public
health and livelihoods are at stake.
To see that agribusiness has packed USDA with its apparent
representatives, one has only to look
at the biographies on the Department’s website of its roughly 45 top
officials, including the Secretary,
Deputy Secretary, Under Secretaries, Assistant Secretaries, Deputy Under
Secretaries, Deputy
Assistant Secretaries and heads of key offices. Many of the biographies
cite previous work with
agribusiness companies and their trade associations, lobbying firms and
research arms, including university
research centers bankrolled by the food industry. Additional research
makes clear that there
are approximately as many industry people among the appointees as there
are career civil servants.
Here are some examples of appointees with past industry ties (unless
otherwise noted, the source for
each affiliation is the individual’s biography on the USDA website):
n Secretary ANN M. VENEMAN served on the board of biotech company Calgene.7
n Secretary Veneman’s chief of staff DALE MOORE was executive director
for legislative
affairs of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), a trade
association heavily supported
by and aligned with the interests of the big meatpacking companies.
n Veneman’s recently named Deputy Chief of Staff, MICHAEL TORREY, was a
vice president
at the International Dairy Foods Association.8
n Director of Communications ALISA HARRISON was formerly executive
director of public
relations at NCBA.
n Deputy Secretary JAMES MOSELEY was a partner in Infinity Pork LLC, a
factory farm in
n Under Secretary J.B. PENN was an executive of Sparks Companies, an
agribusiness consulting
n Under Secretary ELSA A. MURANO conducted industry-sponsored research
while a university
professor (see below).
n Under Secretary JOSEPH JEN was director of research at Campbell Soup
Campbell Institute of Research and Technology.
n Deputy Under Secretary FLOYD D. GAIBLER was executive director of the
Cheese Institute and the American Butter Institute, which are funded by
the dairy industry.
n Deputy Under Secretary KATE COLER was director of government relations
for the Food
Marketing Institute.
n Deputy Under Secretary CHARLES LAMBERT spent 15 years working for NCBA.
n Assistant Secretary for Congressional Relations MARY WATERS was a
senior director and
legislative counsel for ConAgra Foods.
Industry infiltration also extends to USDA’s non-food areas. For
example, Mark E. Rey, the
Under Secretary for Natural Resources and the Environment, who oversees
the Forest Service, was
previously a vice president of the American Forest and Paper
Association.10 By contrast, there are virtually
no associations with family farm, consumer or environmental groups to be
found among the
appointees. The allies of Big Agribusiness have a tight lock on the main
food policy arm of the federal
In addition to previous affiliations with food processing
giants such as ConAgra, many of USDA’s top
appointees used to be affiliated with producer groups
such as the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and
the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC). These
organizations have close ties with the big agri-food
corporations. Such corporations can join NPPC
through the Council’s Pork Alliance, which is represented
on NPPC’s board of directors.11 NPPC
acknowledges that the dues paid by corporate members
(among which are Cargill and Monsanto) “are
used to fund critical industry priorities in the legislative
and regulatory areas.” NCBA has an Allied
Industry Partners program with several categories of
membership, depending on the level of financial support
provided by a company. Bigger contributors
(which here, too, include Cargill and Monsanto) and
are eligible to join the Allied Industry Council, which
has representation on NCBA’s board of directors.12
NCBA, in fact, was created in 1996 through the merger
of the National Cattlemen’s Association and the
National Livestock and Meat Board (including its Beef
Industry Council), which put producers and processors
under the same roof.13
Given these relationships, it is not surprising that
groups such as NPPC and NCBA consistently side
with the interests of the big processors and ignore the
interests of small producers. This rift between small
and large producers has been most apparent in the
controversy over mandatory federal promotion and
“The increasing dominance of
USDA policymaking by
agribusiness interests and
personnel can be traced to two
sources: the growing concentration
of ownership in food production
and processing, and the growing
political influence exercised by the
large players in the industry.”
research programs, better known as the “check-offs.” Under these
programs, producers have been
forced to pay fees on each head of livestock to help finance marketing
programs such as the “Beef:
It’s what’s for Dinner” advertising campaign. Check-off fees also fund
the political worker and regulatory
advocacy of groups like NCBA and NPPC, including support for positions
that disproportionately
favor large producers and the meatpacking industry.
Small producers argue that they can’t afford the fees and that the
marketing efforts provide little
direct benefit for them. In a 2000 referendum, a majority of pork
producers voted to terminate the
check-off program, but USDA refused to comply with the vote. Instead,
NPPC and NCBA have
gone to court (with the support of USDA) to preserve the check-offs, and
the cases have dragged on
for years. In the fall of 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case
on the beef check-off dispute.
Another example of the rift concerns the debate over country-of-origin
labeling. Despite strong
support among small producers and the public for mandatory labeling,
NPPC and NCBA joined
with food processing and retailer groups in supporting a weaker
voluntary system.14 In many ways,
the leading producer groups have been taken over by industry influence
in the same way that USDA
has been captured.


Since the late 1980s, the world beef industry has
contended with a threat called bovine spongiform
encephalopathy (BSE), more popularly known as
mad cow disease. The problem was originally concentrated
in Britain, where at least 141 people have
died since a variation of the disease spread to
humans.21 For more than a decade, Americans
thought that BSE was mainly a European problem.
U.S. consumers continued to consume prodigious
quantities of beef and accepted assurances from federal
officials that everything was being done to prevent
the disease from infecting domestic herds.
That confidence began erode in May 2003,
when a BSE-infected cow was found in the
Canadian province of Alberta, prompting the U.S.
government to suspend beef imports from our
neighbor to the north. Japan and South Korea
demanded that all beef they bought from the U.S. be
labeled as born, raised and processed in the United
States. USDA refused such labeling, insisting to
those countries, as it had to U.S. consumers, that
existing rules were sufficient for safety and confidence
in the food supply.
The bigger shock came in December 2003,
when the first cow in the United States tested positive for BSE. For
several days, during which the beef
market crashed, USDA withheld the fact that the cow was from Canada.
Countries such as Japan and
South Korea wasted no time in banning U.S. imports, yet Agriculture
Secretary Ann Veneman and
other department officials insisted that the diseased Holstein in
Washington State was an isolated case
and that they were acting quickly to address the issue for the “North
American” herd. Veneman made
a show of saying that she intended to serve beef to her family at Christmas.
About a week after the BSE discovery, USDA announced that it would
impose some of the stricter
rules that independent analysts had long been advocating. These included
a prohibition on the use of
downer cows (those unable to walk because of injury or illness) and a
ban on the use of certain body
parts (such as brains and spinal cords, which are most likely to harbor
BSE). The latter applied only
to cows older than 30 months. The downer cow policy came as a surprise
to most Americans, who
had no idea that their hamburgers may have come from crippled animals.
Yet, for more than a decade,
the beef processing industry had successfully thwarted efforts in
Congress to ban the practice.
"At a time when [USDA] should be
bending over backward to reassure
customers, it keeps taking actions
that suggest more concern with
protecting the financial interests of
the beef industry than with
protecting public health...No one
can be confident if the department
remains so blatantly protective of
the American meat industry."
Despite the level of public concern in the wake of the Washington State
BSE discovery, the industry
was not prepared to accede to new rules, such as the testing of all
cattle for BSE, country-of-origin
labeling and a ban on using cattle remains in the production of animal
feed. In early January the
chief lobbyist of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA)
declared: “We’re not about to let
the federal government come in here and overregulate at a time when they
think they ought to do
As it turned out, the NCBA had little to worry about. USDA wrapped up
its investigation of the
Washington State BSE case in only seven weeks, after having failed to
find almost two-thirds of the
80 cattle that entered the United States from Canada with the infected
Holstein. W. Ron DeHaven,
chief veterinary officer of USDA, declared: “It’s time to move on.”23
The rigor of USDA’s investigation came under Congressional scrutiny
shortly thereafter, when a
report by the House Committee on Government Reform, citing three
eyewitnesses, disputed USDA’s
claim that the infected cow was a downer. Committee Chairman Thomas M.
Davis III (R-VA) and
ranking Democrat Rep. Henry Waxman of California wrote to Secretary
Veneman, stating that the
new evidence “could have serious implications for both the adequacy of
the national [mad cow] surveillance
system and the credibility of the USDA.”24 Under pressure such as this,
USDA reluctantly
agreed to expand its testing program a bit more, but it still resisted
the more aggressive measures that
were widely advocated outside the Department and the beef industry.
USDA also continued to deny that country-of-origin labeling would help
re-establish export markets
and consumer confidence—despite the certification requested by Japan and
South Korea.
Consumer surveys showed a strong preference for country-of-origin
labeling. World Animal Health
Organization rules state that a country can maintain “BSE free” status
if an infected animal is proven
to be imported. But Tyson, Cargill, and Swift—which have large
meatpacking and production operations
in Canada, Australia, Argentina and other countries—did not want to
identify the source of the
meat they sold to consumers. USDA, as a result, adamantly refused to
change it position on labeling.
USDA’s inclination to put the interests of the big meatpackers ahead of
public safety was so
strong that the Department went on the attack against a small maverick
beef company. Kansas-based
Creekstone Farms operates what is reputedly an ultramodern plant and has
sold premium meat to
customers in places as far away as Russia. Realizing that its business
would be crippled unless foreign
customers were assured that its product was free of BSE, Creekstone
spent more than $500,000 to
install its own BSE testing laboratory—the first in a U.S.
slaughterhouse—to test every head of cattle
it slaughtered. The company hired seven chemists and biologists to
operate the facility.
Rather than praising Creekstone for its initiative, USDA prevented the
company from operating
the lab by refusing to sell it necessary testing materials, domestic
distribution of which is controlled by
the federal government. In a position that was supported by NCBA,25 USDA
insisted that its own policy
of limited testing was the only acceptable one and that allowing
Creekstone to do comprehensive
testing might lead consumers to think that meat from other companies was
not safe. USDA also
claimed that false positive results for BSE could have a negative impact
on cattle and beef markets.
The inadequacy of USDA’s regulatory approach has become even clearer
with some recent events.
In May there were reports that a cow with evidence of neurological
problems (which is considered to
be a marker of higher risk of BSE) was discovered at a Lone Star Beef
slaughterhouse in Texas, yet it
was not tested for BSE. The animal was removed from the meat production
line but was sent to a
rendering plant to be made into animal feed, which could allow a BSE
infection to return to the
human food supply. USDA could not explain how this animal slipped
through its supposedly
strengthened testing program.
Revelations such as these prompted the New York Times to editorialize:
“At a time when [USDA]
should be bending over backward to reassure customers, it keeps taking
actions that suggest more
concern with protecting the financial interests of the beef industry
than with protecting public
health…No one can be confident if the department remains so blatantly
protective of the American
meat industry.”26
It then came to light that, in September 2003, USDA had allowed
meatpackers to resume
imports of some meat products from Canada that were prohibited by an
August 2003 regulation that
responded to the discovery of BSE in that country. Over a six month
period, more than 30 million
pounds of ground beef and other high-risk beef products were brought
into the country. The willingness
of USDA to take this reckless secret action can only be interpreted as
another example of an
agency totally subservient to the interests of industry. Senator Kent
Conrad (D-ND) was so outraged
that he urged President Bush to ask for the resignation of Secretary
Veneman (whose spokeswoman
claimed the Secretary knew nothing about the imports), adding that the
public “deserved to know
who may have benefited from favored treatment, and why.”27 At the
written request of U.S. Senators
Tom Daschle (D-SD), Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Mark Dayton (D-MN), the USDA
General agreed to review the agency’s authorization of the Canadian beef
USDA’s wrong-headed BSE policies have put U.S. consumers at risk while
jeopardizing the livelihood
of ranchers. Despite the position of NCBA, it is not in the best
interests of cattle producers to
resist comprehensive testing or country-of-origin labeling. The domestic
meat market may have stabilized
after last year’s scares, but beef exports have plunged in the face of
foreign skepticism about
the safety of U.S. cattle. If USDA continues on its current course,
there is a serious risk that a crisis
of confidence will emerge in this country as well.
USDA’s inclination to defend the interests of major meatpacking
companies comes as no surprise
when one considers the background of some of the Department’s key
officials. USDA is overflowing
with meat industry veterans.
n DALE MOORE, Secretary Veneman’s Chief of Staff, was previously the
executive director
for legislative affairs of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
(NCBA).28 After taking
office Moore said he would recuse himself from matters involving his
former employer, but
it is unclear how far that position extends into meat safety issues and
how diligent Moore has
been in observing it.
n DR. CHARLES “CHUCK” LAMBERT, Deputy Under Secretary for Marketing and
Regulatory Programs, spent more than 15 years in various positions at
NCBA.29 In a June
2003 Congressional hearing the former beef lobbyist was asked whether it
was possible that
a case of BSE could occur in the United States. He replied: “No, sir.”
When asked whether
he would bet his job on that statement, he replied: “Yes, sir.” He later
admitted to a reporter:
“I overstated my case.”30
n ALISA HARRISON, USDA Director of Communications, was formerly
executive director
of public relations at NCBA.31 Harrison has defended the BSE policy of
USDA and Secretary
Veneman to the press, and she was the spokesperson who tried to justify
the Department’s
position on the Creekstone Farms controversy. On the latter issue,
Harrison made the following
dubious statement: “We are looking at what the consensus of
international experts is
when it comes to testing, and that consensus is that 100 percent testing
is not justified.”32
n J.B. PENN, Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services,
used to be a senior
vice president of Sparks Companies, a consulting firm that works closely
with the meat industry
and other parts of agribusiness.33 In April, Penn led a USDA delegation
that went to
Tokyo to try to reassure Japanese officials about the safety of U.S.
beef. Penn strongly hinted
that his aim was to persuade the Japanese that the 100 percent testing
approach that
Creekstone Farms wanted to pursue was not necessary. Speaking of planned
follow-on negotiations,
Penn told reporters: “I think part of what we’ll be discussing in these
technical talks
is, are there different ways to get to the same level of consumer
safety, to the same assurance
of a level of some consumer safety of beef?”34
n MARY WATERS, Assistant Secretary for Congressional Relations, used to
serve as a Senior
Director and Legislative Counsel for ConAgra Foods, which until 2002 was
a major packing
company for beef and pork.35 In 2002 the company was forced to recall 19
million pounds
of beef shipped from a plant in Colorado because of E.coli contamination.
n SCOTT CHARBO, Chief Information Officer, was formerly president of
mPower3 Inc., a
wholly-owned subsidiary of ConAgra Foods.36 Secretary Veneman assigned
Charbo responsibility
for creating a national animal identification program to help deal with
problems such
as BSE. Charbo seemed to be downplaying the importance of the project.
He stated: “It is
important to note that no animal identification program by itself will
prevent an introduction
of animal disease, ensure safe food or prevent a recall.”37
It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that officials such as these are
going out of their way to minimize
the regulatory burden on their former employers in the beef industry,
even in the face of marketplace
and food safety threats as potentially disastrous as BSE. The industry
mindset seems to be
so ingrained that these officials have become oblivious to common sense
or simple prudence.


The Administrator of GIPSA is DONNA REIFSCHNEIDER. There is currently no
of Reifschneider posted on the USDA website, but a press release issued
when she was appointed in
2002 indicated that she was previously a member of the executive
committee of the Meat Export
Federation and, prior to that, president of the National Pork Producers
Council.42 The Federation
and the Council are agribusiness trade associations that have not been
critical of growing concentration
in the meat industry. Reifschneider participated in a Council task force
that came out against a
ban on packer ownership.43 Reifschneider’s family owns and operates a
hog and grain farm in southern
Illinois. In 2000 Successful Farming magazine reported that the
Reifschneider farm was where
multinational agribusiness giant Bunge Ltd. “had its main genetic
nucleus herd.”44
GIPSA’s Deputy Administrator for Packers and Stockyards Programs, JoAnn
Waterfield, does not
come from an industry background, but she has apparently adopted much of
the meat processing
industry’s point of view. According to a September 2003 article in a
publication of the Illinois Farm
Bureau, Waterfield “recognizes packers enjoy the right to ‘grow their
business.’ She emphasizes [that]
neither livestock market concentration nor consolidation are prohibited
under the agency’s guiding
Packers and Stockyards Act.”45 Speaking to a 2002 meeting of the
National Cattlemen’s Beef
Association, Waterfield made it sound like enforcement of the unfair
competition provisions of the
Packers and Stockyards Act was all but impossible, claiming that the Act
provides “an extremely difficult
threshold” to prove there is a violation.46
Apparently, GIPSA has given up trying.


The federal official most directly responsible for meat
inspection policies is DR. ELSA A. MURANO, Under
Secretary of Agriculture for Food Safety and the head of FSIS.
On the surface, Murano’s background is that of an academic.53
She was on the faculty of Texas A&M University for six years,
rising to the position of full professor. She also served as director
of the Center for Food Safety within Texas A&M’s Institute
of Food Science and Engineering. Prior to her time at Texas
A&M, Murano served as professor-in-charge of research programs
at the Linear Accelerator Facility at Iowa State University.
What her official biography fails to mention is that, before
taking office, Murano was a proponent of HAACP as well as an
ardent supporter of the controversial practice of food irradiation,
the meat industry’s preferred method for dealing with
pathogens. When Murano was nominated in July 2001, the
Associated Press referred to her as an “irradiation advocate.”54
Nation’s Restaurant News headlined its story “Bush Taps
Irradiation Ally for Top Safety Post.”55 Public Citizen wrote a
letter to Sen. Tom Harkin, then chairman of the Senate
Agriculture Committee, pointing out that the program where
she taught at Texas A&M had signed a 10-year research and
development deal with Titan Corporation, a leading player in
food irradiation through its creation of SureBeam
Corporation.56 The letter also cited statements from Murano
downplaying the risks of irradiation and comparing it to
microwaving, an entirely different process.
Since taking office, Murano has acted as a proponent both
of HACCP and irradiation. For example, in May 2003 she
addressed the First World Congress on Food Irradiation, praising
irradiation as “an important tool in our fight against foodborne
"Murano was a proponent of
HAACP as well as an ardent
supporter of the
controversial practice of
food irradiation, the meat
industry's preferred method
for dealing with pathogens."
Murano has been joined in her efforts on behalf of irradiation by her
husband PETER
MURANO, who also performed industry-sponsored research on irradiation
while an academic at
Texas A&M and who was also brought into the Bush Administration.58 He is
Deputy Administrator
for Special Nutrition Programs at USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service,
which gives him a position
of influence over the National School Lunch Program. In May 2003, USDA
lifted its ban on the use
of irradiated ground beef in school lunches. Elsa Murano defended the
move, telling reporters “when
compared with conventional beef, the product’s that irradiated is going
to be safer, no question.”59
Murano and USDA proceeded with the irradiation plan despite what one
trade publication called “a
flood of angry comments…from parents denouncing” the proposal.60
To top things off, USDA announced last year that it was awarding a grant
of $185,000 to Texas
A&M to help fund a National Center for Electron Beam Food Research,
which was also getting $10
million from SureBeam.61 USDA also gave $151,000 to the state of
Minnesota for what was
described as an irradiation education program in three school districts,
but which critics called a proirradiation
propaganda campaign.62 USDA is not only encouraging the dubious practice
of irradiation;
it is subsidizing its development. (irradiation will not kill the TSE


USDA’s promotion of biotechnology has been displayed at the highest
level of the Department,
including Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, who, as noted above, once
served as the director of a
biotech company. Other key USDA officials also have ties to the biotech
industry. For example,
n NEIL HOFFMAN, the Biotechnology Regulatory Services
Director of USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
(APHIS), formerly served as a researcher at the biotech firm
Paradigm Genetics Inc.73
n DAVID HEGWOOD, Counsel to the Secretary of Agriculture,
formerly worked at the Washington, DC law firm, O’Mara &
Associates, where he advised clients in international trade issues
related to biotechnology.74
n NANCY BRYSON, USDA's general counsel, was a partner in
the Washington, D.C. office of the law firm of Crowell &
Moring, where she advised clients on biotechnology product
approval and regulations and served as the co-chair of Crowell &
Moring's biotechnologies practice.75
There are also cases of federal officials’ leaving USDA to work for
the biotech industry and its representatives. Chief among these is
former USDA Secretary Dan Glickman, who went to work for Akin
Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, one of the major lobbying and law
firms in Washington, where he was to advise corporate clients on a
variety of issues including biotechnology.76
Attorney Andrew C. Fish, a former Assistant Secretary at USDA
during the Clinton Administration, joined the Government Affairs
Practice Group at the law firm of Downs Rachlin Martin PLLC,
where his areas of focus included biotechnology.77
When it comes to biotechnology, the movement between government
and industry is truly a revolving door.
"While farmers are
paying an economic
price, USDA is allowing
U.S. consumers to be
turned into a vast pool
of unwitting test
subjects for the biotech
industry's questionable
agenda for transforming


Like other federal agencies, USDA employees are subject to both
administrative and criminal
penalties if they are deemed to have violated ethics rules in the
performance of their official duties.
Appropriately, substantial proof is required for criminal prosecution
under Title 18 of the United
States Code, which relates to bribery, graft and conflicts of
interest.78 However, federal appointees are
also subject to “Standards of Ethical Conduct,” published by the Office
of Government Ethics, which
address the issue of “Impartiality in Performing Official Duties.” These
standards establish a lower
threshold for identifying conflict of interest, stipulating that agency
employees “shouldn't participate
in particular matters involving specific parties that are likely to
affect the financial interests of…
prospective/former employers [and] outside associations in which [they]
are active or principal…
where a reasonable person might question [their] impartiality.”79
By this standard, many of the key appointees mentioned in the foregoing
case studies should
recuse themselves from USDA policy making on issues from food safety to
biotechnology, because
their associations with former employers in the industry would lead any
reasonable person to question
their impartiality. As detailed above, Dale Moore promised to recuse
himself from matters relating
to the National Cattleman’s Beef Association. But such recusals by
themselves do not solve the
problem of excessive industry influence. There is little evidence that
top USDA officials have been
subject to administrative sanction for the apparent conflicts in these
case studies.
In its excellent report on revolving door issues at the Department of
Defense,80 the Project on
Government Oversight (POGO) sheds important light on why ethics rules
are so poorly enforced:
they are rife with loopholes, exemptions and complexities that require
significant legal expertise to
disentangle. POGO illustrates how enforcement of revolving door ethics
violations across the federal
government has declined over the past eight years, and offers thirteen
very specific recommendations
for tightening the rules framework.81 This paper applauds and supports
those recommendations.
Spurred by scandals at the Pentagon, Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) recently
sought to introduce
legislative curbs on federal appointees who work with government
contractors,82 while Senator John
McCain (R-AZ) plans hearings on revolving door issues in July.83
However, it is important to point
out one major difference between revolving door appointments at the
Pentagon and at USDA.
Concern at the Department of Defense has centered on procurement
officers, often with military
backgrounds, who accept lucrative jobs with the very firms whose defense
contracts they managed.
In such cases, the door revolves from government service to industry.
This has allowed some observers to suggest that the revolving door may
be a positive phenomenon,
because career civil servants imbued with patriotism, discipline and
ethical rectitude would not
seek to defraud the government for their own personal gain, and would
instead use their knowledge
and experience of the system to enhance efficiency. But that argument
weakens when the revolving
door swings the other way, from industry to government, as in the case
studies at USDA. Executives
with long experience in the private sector often bring with them to
public service an ideological aversion
to regulation, which in turn colors their attitudes about their policy
Therefore, a much-needed reappraisal of ethics rules across federal
agencies, including “coolingoff
” periods between government and industry roles as well as incoming and
outgoing ethics pledges
from political appointees, must include attention to the particular
conflicts of interest generated
when industry leaders become policymakers.



Dave Louthan - Killed the Mad Cow

Senator Michael Machado from California

''USDA does not know what's going on''.

''USDA is protecting the industry''.

''SHOULD the state of California step in''

Stanley Prusiner

''nobody has ever ask us to comment''

''they don't want us to comment''

''they never ask''

i tried to see Venemon, after Candian cow was discovered with BSE.
went to see lyle. after talking with him... absolute ignorance... then
thought i should see Venemon... it was clear his entire policy was to
get cattle boneless beef prods across the border... nothing else
mattered... his aids confirmed this... 5 times i tried to see Venemon,
never worked... eventually met with carl rove the political... he is the
one that arranged meetingwith Venemon... just trying to give you a sense
of the distance... healh public safety... was never contacted... yes i
believe that prions are bad to eat and you can die from them...END

Dr. Stan bashing Ann Veneman - 3 minutes

Recall Authority and Mad Cow Disease: Is the Current System Good for

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Choose a RealPlayer video --->
Selected excerpts:

Opening Statement by Senator Michael Machado


July 13, 2004

IG Audit Finds Multiple Flaws in Mad Cow Surveillance Plan
Rep. Waxman raises questions about the effectiveness and credibility of
USDA's response to mad cow disease, citing an audit by the USDA
Inspector General that finds systemic deficiencies in the Department's
surveillance plan and new evidence that USDA misled the public in the
wake of the detection of an infected cow in Washington State.

- Letter to USDA

IG Draft Audit

May 13, 2004

Failure To Test Staggering Cow May Reflect Wider Problems
Rep. Waxman raises concerns that the recent failure of USDA to test an
impaired cow for BSE may not be an isolated incident, citing the failure
of USDA to monitor whether cows condemned for central nervous system
symptoms are actually tested for mad cow disease.

- Letter to USDA



No mad cow results for nearly 500 cows

By Steve Mitchell
United Press International
Published 8/11/2004 11:23 AM

WASHINGTON, Aug. 11 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture failed
to test for mad cow disease or collect the correct portion of the brain
on nearly 500 suspect cows over the past two years -- including some in
categories considered most likely to be infected -- according to agency
records obtained by United Press International.

The testing problems mean it may never be known with certainty whether
these animals were infected with the deadly disease. Department
officials said these animals were not included in the agency's final
tally of mad cow tests, but the records, obtained by UPI under the
Freedom of Information Act, indicate at least some of them were counted...



Steve Mitchell is UPI's Medical Correspondent. E-mail
Copyright © 2001-2004 United Press International

EFSA Scientific Report on the Assessment of the Geographical BSE-Risk
(GBR) of the United States of America (USA)

Adopted July 2004 (Question N° EFSA-Q-2003-083)

[20 August 2004]

From: Terry S. Singeltary Sr. []
Sent: Tuesday, July 29, 2003 1:03 PM
Cc:;; BSE-L
Subject: Docket No. 2003N-0312 Animal Feed Safety System [TSS SUBMISSION
TO DOCKET 2003N-0312]

Greetings FDA,


PLUS, if the USA continues to flagrantly ignore the _documented_ science
to date about the known TSEs in the USA (let alone the undocumented TSEs
in cattle), it is my opinion, every other Country that is dealing with
BSE/TSE should boycott the USA and demand that the SSC reclassify the
USA BSE GBR II risk assessment to BSE/TSE GBR III 'IMMEDIATELY'. for the
SSC to _flounder_ any longer on this issue, should also be regarded with
great suspicion as well. NOT to leave out the OIE and it's terribly
flawed system of disease surveillance. the OIE should make a move on CWD
in the USA, and make a risk assessment on this as a threat to human
health. the OIE should also change the mathematical formula for testing
of disease. this (in my opinion and others) is terribly flawed as well.
to think that a sample survey of 400 or so cattle in a population of 100
million, to think this will find anything, especially after seeing how
many TSE tests it took Italy and other Countries to find 1 case of BSE
(1 million rapid TSE test in less than 2 years, to find 102 BSE cases),
should be proof enough to make drastic changes of this system. the OIE
criteria for BSE Country classification and it's interpretation is very
problematic. a text that is suppose to give guidelines, but is not
understandable, cannot be considered satisfactory. the OIE told me 2
years ago that they were concerned with CWD, but said any changes might
take years. well, two years have come and gone, and no change in
relations with CWD as a human health risk. if we wait for politics and
science to finally make this connection, we very well may die before any
or changes are made. this is not acceptable. we must take the politics
and the industry out of any final decisions of the Scientific community.
this has been the problem from day one with this environmental man made
death sentence. some of you may think i am exaggerating, but you only
have to see it once, you only have to watch a loved one die from this
one time, and you will never forget, OR forgive...yes, i am still very
angry... but the transmission studies DO NOT lie, only the politicians
and the industry do... and they are still lying to this day...TSS

Terry S. Singeltary Sr. P.O. BOX 42 Bacliff, TEXAS USA

######### ##########

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