ABC Lean on Fairness in Mad Cow Testing Story
ABCâs Charles Gibson gave viewers of the July 20 âWorld News Tonightâ little to chew on when he told them the government was scaling back testing for mad cow disease. The anchor only put forth the anti-industry side of the story and left out how cattle ranchers were pleased with government findings that prompted the testing cutback.
âThe Agriculture Department has said that itâs going to eliminate about 90 percent of its test for mad cow disease,â Gibson informed viewers, noting that the government tests about 1,000 cows-a-day since an infected animal was discovered in the
Although the USDA says the risk of contaminated beef getting to market is minimal, âconsumer groups are protesting the decision,â Gibson concluded, without naming the groups or exploring whether they are more anti-cattle industry than pro consumer.
Meanwhile, the Consumers Union, wants to test every single animal slaughtered, a step that is scientifically unnecessary, say experts at a beef industry group The ABC report didnât address the potential cost of such an approach.
In a July 20 article, AP food and farm writer Libby Quaid documented the objections to the testing change from the Consumers Union and the Consumer Federation, but then added that the National Cattlemenâs Beef Association argues the new testing quota âabout 110 per day, is significantly higher than what is called for by the World Organization for Animal Health.â
In a July 20 statement the NCBAâs executive director of regulatory affairs Dr. Gary Weber commented that the âscientific analysis of USDAâs enhanced surveillance program found the disease to be extremely rare, occurring at a rate of less than one case per one million adult cattle.â
In short, Weber added, the USDA survey produced âthe strongest evidence yet that the BSE risk in this country is exceptionally low,â referring to the scientific name for mad cow disease, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy.