The Bush administration received a letter grade of “D” today for its efforts to prevent mad cow disease during the six months since a mad cow was found in the United States. Seven public interest organizations with more than 5 million members released a report card rating the administration’s performance. The groups assessed 10 key actions needed to prevent the disease including testing, feed restrictions, animal identification and tracking, prevention of the human version of the disease and whether the administration has been following its own rules.
“When it comes to something as serious as mad cow disease, the public expects the Bush administration to earn more than a marginal grade,” said Brent Blackwelder, president of Friends of the Earth, an organization that addresses health and environmental impacts of agriculture.
One piece of homework that the administration assigned itself in January but has failed to complete is for the Food and Drug Administration to close loopholes that allow some cattle parts to be fed to cattle and some risky beef products to still be used in food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
“The Bush administration has barely earned a D in mastering the A, B, Cs of mad cow prevention,” said Andrew Kimbrell, Director of the Center for Food Safety. “Our message to President Bush is that it’s time to do your homework and solve this serious public health problem. The solutions are straight forward, but the consequences of failure are severe.”
Groups rating the Bush administration include the Center for Food Safety, Consumers Union (the publisher of Consumer Reports), the Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Foundation, Friends of the Earth, the Government Accountability Project, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy – Action, and Public Citizen.