ABC Lean on Fairness in Mad Cow Testing Story
ABCâ€™s Charles Gibson gave viewers of the July 20 â€śWorld News Tonightâ€ť 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.
â€śThe Agriculture Department has said that itâ€™s going to eliminate about 90 percent of its test for mad cow disease,â€ť 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, â€śconsumer groups are protesting the decision,â€ť 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 didnâ€™t 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 Cattlemenâ€™s Beef Association argues the new testing quota â€śabout 110 per day, is significantly higher than what is called for by the World Organization for Animal Health.â€ť
In a July 20 statement the NCBAâ€™s executive director of regulatory affairs Dr. Gary Weber commented that the â€śscientific analysis of USDAâ€™s 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€ť
In short, Weber added, the USDA survey produced â€śthe strongest evidence yet that the BSE risk in this country is exceptionally low,â€ť referring to the scientific name for mad cow disease, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy.