ST. PAUL, MN - On Thursday, June 9 at 8:30 a.m. at the corner of Eckles and Carter Avenues, on the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota, the Center for Media and Democracy and the Organic Consumers Association will hold a news conference to challenge U.S. policies that fail to safeguard against the spread of mad cow disease. The conference precedes U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns' public roundtable discussion with meat industry leaders on mad cow disease, which runs from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the nearby Classroom Office Building B-45, 1994 Buford Avenue.
The news conference will explain how current U.S. policies put livestock - and, subsequently, humans - at risk for fatal, brain-wasting diseases. Speakers will describe how and why the U.S. government has failed to ban feeding slaughterhouse waste to cattle, failed to test millions of cattle entering the human food supply, and refused to allow private producers to test their own animals for mad cow disease.
Also at the news conference, the Organic Consumers Association will dump commercially purchased calf feed containing cow blood and slaughterhouse waste, to protest the U.S. government's failure to adopt the stronger safeguards implemented years ago by European and Asian countries.
News conference speakers will include:
" Jim Goodman, beef and dairy farmer from Wonewoc, Wisconsin;
" John Stauber, executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy and co-author of the book Mad Cow U.S.A.;
" Dr. Diane Farsetta, senior researcher at the Center for Media and Democracy and molecular biologist; and
" Ronnie Cummins, author and national director of the Organic Consumers Association.
"One focus of Secretary Johanns' St. Paul roundtable is the economic impact of mad cow disease," said beef producer Jim Goodman. "The best way to support U.S. meat and dairy producers would be to adopt better safeguards. Instead, the USDA made it illegal for producers to test their cattle for mad cow disease. U.S. producers must be allowed to test their animals and to offer consumers beef that tests free of mad cow disease."
"You may not be a vegetarian, but the animals you eat should be," author John Stauber stated. "Animal-derived protein in cattle feed is the number one way mad cow disease is transmitted. Yet blood from cattle and pigs, slaughterhouse waste from pigs and poultry, and poultry feces are still routinely fed to North American cattle. Also, the USDA testing program should be expanded to screen millions of cattle each year and should be made more transparent, with independent labs able to verify test results."
"This USDA roundtable does not include any public health or consumer representatives," said researcher Dr. Diane Farsetta. "Unfortunately, the agency appears to be continuing the U.S. government's practice to date of trying to assuage the concerns of U.S. consumers, economic markets and foreign governments with public relations campaigns, instead of making the necessary policy changes to ensure a safe food supply."
Ronnie Cummins stated, "Consumers are turning in droves to organic, grass-fed beef and organic dairy products, once they learn that the USDA is still allowing the routine feeding of blood, manure, and slaughterhouse waste to farm animals, and refusing to test all cattle at slaughter for mad cow disease."
In St. Paul, the Organic Consumers Association will also deliver to Secretary Johanns a petition signed by more than 12,000 Americans, calling for stronger mad cow disease safeguards, including a ban on all blood, manure and slaughterhouse waste in animal feed, and allowing private producers to independently test their own cattle for mad cow disease.
The Center for Media and Democracy was founded in 1993 to investigate and report on deceptive public relations and propaganda campaigns. The Center publishes the award-winning quarterly publication PR Watch. Center staff have also authored five books, including the 1997 book Mad Cow U.S.A. by John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton. Mad Cow U.S.A. correctly predicted the emergence of mad cow disease in North America and received favorable reviews from such technical publications as the Journal of the American Medical Association, New Scientist and Chemical & Engineering News.
The Organic Consumers Association was founded in 1998. It is a nationwide network of 700,000 organic consumers, carrying out public education around issues of food safety and environmental sustainability, while promoting organic agriculture and Fair Trade.