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Eating Meat and Dairy Like Playing Russian Roulette


My wife and I have been vegetarians for nearly 10 years. When we first gave up our favorite meat dishes we thought we missed them. But as more and more stories break about massive meat recalls because of such bacterial infections as Listeria and Salmonella, and now mad cow disease and the threat of a bird flu, we are convinced that we made the right choice.


Disturbing news about the effects of a synthetic hormone BSE produced by Monsanto and Eli-Lilly for increasing milk production in dairy cows has forced us of late to abandon the use of milk and all dairy products. This hormone, which could by now be in all of the milk produced in the United States, is now being found to be not only carcinogenic, but linked to bone deterioration, allergic reactions and a resistance to antibiotics.


Dairy companies are afraid to tell us on their labels if BSE is in their milk products because of litigation by Monsanto against companies that tried. The argument is that the product has been approved by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration, and it is therefore safe for human consumption.


And there lies the rub. Because of the new politics of profit over safety, Americans can no longer trust assurances by the FDA or the USDA that our food is safe.


While the FDA has long been known to be over cautious before approving new drugs for use on humans, the agency is under pressure by farm organizations to ease its policies of controlling the use of antibiotics and other health related products on the animals that produce the food we eat. That the use of BSE was approved by the agency before proper testing of the synthetic hormone was done is proof of this failure.


Since the Bush Administration came to Washington, there have been some big changes going on. Regulation agencies are collapsing under the political pressure to ease controls that threaten company profits.


A recent report by an organization called Bushgreenwatch revealed that the U. S. Department of Agriculture is now staffed by former employees of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and other farm industry groups, "all of whom have a financial stake in how the nations food supply is regulated."


For example, USDA Press Secretary Alisa Harrison, the woman who is assuring everybody that beef is still safe from mad cow disease in the U.S., is former director of public relations for the cattlemen's group.


According to the article, other USDA employees with ties to the agricultural industry include:


Elizabeth Johnson, Senior Advisor on Food and Nutrition; formerly associate director for Food Policy, National Cattlemen's Beef Association

James Moseley, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture; formerly managing partner of Infinity Pork, LLC, an Indiana hog farm

Dale Moore, Chief of Staff; formerly executive director for legislative affairs, National Cattlemen's Beef Association

Dr. Eric Hentges, Director, Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion; formerly vice president for the National Pork Board; director of Consumer Nutrition and Health Research, National Pork Producers Council; director of Human Nutrition Research, National Livestock and Meat Board

Dr. Charles "Chuck" Lambert, Deputy Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs; formerly chief economist, National Cattlemen's Beef Association

Donna Reifschneider, Administrator for Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration; formerly executive committee member, Meat Export Federation, 1999-2002, and president, National Pork Producers Council. With her family, owns a large hog farm in Illinois

Mary Kirtley Waters, Assistant Secretary for Congressional Relations; formerly senior director and legislative counsel, ConAgra Foods

Scott Charbo, Chief Information Officer; formerly president, mPower3, a subsidiary of ConAgra Foods


Remember this every time you are tempted to throw a steak on that grill, or grab a hamburger at your local fast food joint.


Not only is there a possibility that the meat you order is poisoned, the creature it came from died a horrible death just for you to have that meal.


And if your luck is really bad, that hamburger you are chomping on contains beef ground from a sick animal that a cattleman butchered before anybody noticed anything was wrong.

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