Sunday, June 26, 2005

It's a mad, mad, mad, mad world 

Hmmm -- I hadn't realized that the US Department of Agriculture was now being run by the same people who used to manage the drug testing for the US Olympic Team.
AP is reporting that that US cow first tested positive for Mad Cow LAST NOVEMBER. But a second test was negative and the USDA for seven months refused the demands of consumer groups and scientists that a third test be done to settle the case. Finally, the USDA's inspector general, an official whom AP describes as the department's "internal watchdog," ordered the third test -- and the Secretary of Agriculture was pissed. The test was underway before he knew about it -- and, presumably, before he could stop it. The third test was positive. And now, to put a better spin on it, the USDA has announced it will do the third test on any other conflicting results it finds in the future.
But I think the Inspector General should watch her back.
The AP story describes the chain of events: "Troubled by the conflicting test results, the department's inspector general, Phyllis Fong, ordered the Western blot test this month. By the time an aide notified Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns, the testing was under way . . . Johanns, amid an uproar from the cattle industry, was irked that she did so without his knowledge or consent. 'From my standpoint, I believe I was put there to operate the department and was very disappointed,' he told reporters Friday morning. By that afternoon, the verdict from Britain was in: The cow had mad cow disease . . . Johanns, who took over the department in January, said the government will use both the IHC and Western blot tests from now on when initial screening indicates an animal may have the disease."
The whole story still leaves a bad taste in my mouth, methaphorically speaking.

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