Saturday 2nd of December 2023

A real weapon of mass destruction

There are growing fears that the federal government is preparing to relax Australia’s beef import regulations, overturning its ban on beef imports from BSE affected countries like the US & Canada. 


The federal government has confirmed that cabinet is currently considering relaxing Australia’s import regulations, to bring them into line with international rules promulgated by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), an arm of the World Trade Organization (WTO).


Whilst the government has claimed that any relaxation of the import ban would ‘only be done under the strictest rules’, Professor Linda Weiss, an expert in international economic relations at the University of Sydney, has said that any move by the government to water down Australia’s BSE related import controls would be ‘an act of insanity on an economic level’, not only jeopardising our domestic beef market but our huge beef trade with Japan. Professor Weiss has claimed that the government has been effectively ‘locked-in’ to making the changes as a consequence of the USA / Australia Free Trade Agrement, which requires Australia to follow world trade guidelines in respect of BSE.  


At a meeting in May, the OIE recommended a softer approach to the regulation of mad cow disease, allowing for the trade of beef products between BSE-free countries like Australia & countries which have a history of the disease.  


Whilst OIE guidelines are optional, any commitment that the government has made via the Free Trade Agreement may not be.  


But whilst the federal government has dismissed such suggestions, it has acknowledged  that Australia’s ban on beef imports from BSE affected countries, such as the US & Canada, could be overturned.  


The US beef industry has been struggling since it experienced an incident of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in December, 2003.  


Within hours of the incident, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia & Singapore all announced a ban on the importation of US beef, with these bans still in place today.  


BSE is linked to a similar form of the incurable & fatal brain-wasting disease in humans, called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, or vCJD. There have been a small number of cases of vCJD reported worldwide, primarily in the United Kingdom, in people who ate BSE-contaminated meat.  


BSE spread across the European cattle industry after it first developed in the UK in the mid-1980s, but only two cases have been reported in North America, including one in Canada.  


BSE is spread only by the consumption of infected feed & is not transmitted from cow to cow.  


If cows eat the brains of other cows that already have BSE or of sheep suffering from a sheep disease called scrapie, the animals can develop mad cow disease.  


When people eat infected animals, thus far presumed to be cows, they could develop the human version of the disease, new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (nvCJD).  


Millions of cattle suspected of being infected with BSE in England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Italy, and other countries have been incinerated & various safeguards instituted. 


No matter what species it strikes, spongiform encephalopathy is always fatal. There is no treatment. The disease eats holes in the brain. In humans, it initially causes memory loss & erratic behaviour & over a period of months, its victims gradually lose all ability to care for themselves or communicate & eventually, they die.  


More than 120 people in Europe have died from nvCJD.  


In the US & Canada, the dangerous practice of feeding sheep & even cows to other cows was not banned until 1997 & the US government has acknowledged that as recently as 2001, there was widespread violation of the feeding regulation.  


In fact, whilst the USDA, headed by former beef industry lobbyist Ann Veneman, claimed that the 1997 ban on feeding ruminants (cattle & sheep) to other ruminants should be enough to protect US consumers from the risk of mad cow disease, a 2001 investigation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported that literally hundreds of feed suppliers violated the ban & found that at least 1,200 feed suppliers had not even been identified nor inspected.  


In 2002, the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, issued a report on the U.S. mad cow disease risk, stating:  


“FDA did not take prompt enforcement action to compel firms to comply with the feed ban. When we began this study, in April 2001, the only enforcement action FDA had taken was to issue two warning letters in 1999. However, since inspections began in 1997, FDA has reported hundreds of firms out of compliance - most often for failure to meet requirements to label feed that contained prohibited proteins in cattle feed. We found several instances in which firms were out of compliance but had not been reinspected for a year or more - & in some cases 2 years. 


FDA has no clear enforcement strategy for dealing with firms that do not obey the feed ban & it does not know what, if any, enforcement actions the states may be taking.

more fridge magnets required .....

‘If it's unethical to eat British beef, it's 100 times worse to eat Brazilian - but imports have nearly doubled this year.’ 


The Price Of Cheap Beef

Trading values

One thing for sure is that free trade agreements and international trade operations have been designed with a specific aim in mind: keep money moving at any cost and maintain populations under the control of corporations. One could write a master thesis on this subject but I will stick to a very short exposure of the con that FTA's are.

Recently we've been made aware of 50,000 tonnes of oranges being dumped and left to rot because there was no market for it... yet at the same time, our orange juice manufacturers import vast quantity of orange concentrate from South America... Hello... Bloody-mindedness and greed mixing for a stupid outrageous waste of a result.

Many electronic and white goods are now made in china for a fraction of the cost it would should these be made here. Australian factories have closed... Skills are lost and that's part of the grand plan of globalisation in which planning is such that some countries will manufacture this while other will produce that... Now, most people in countries like Australia work in services areas, money management and bean counting (did I mention insurance, lawyers, etc)... Most of it is hot air fabrication that keeps people busy doing something not really practical. The art of manufacturing or producing something is lost to the secret part of the FTA agreements.

Money exchange parity and trading difference are deliberately designed to kill off certain industries, especially the small to medium size manufacturing enterprises for the benefit of the large conglomeration that can pick and chose where to stick a new plant, or swamp with products at a loss in a competitive market for as long as they wish — as long as they do not appear to flaunt the anti dumping laws.

Despite a free market spruik, political forces are there to help the anointed few. The others struggle or perish.... Competition is invoked as a god of being almighty while much of it is based on envy and primitive warfare. Improvements are mainly in the illusions of the mirrored trick that are marketing and advertising.

It's a worldwide conspiracy by the main rulers of this world to only have certain productions in certain countries. Look at the Australian trade deficit of about 2 billion dollars a MONTH... month after month after month... How can we sustain this? Bullshit national budget accounting of course ... So we big-talk of bottle necks that reduce our export... Crap. If these exist, they also impair our import too... so we playing with semantics. At the moment, the talk is to "improve" the movement of cargo at Botany Bay by about twice as much. Imagine twice as many trucks clogging the road system of the big smoke, because of course trains are not entering the equation since they are not "private" enterprises, yet...... so in proportion of output and input, this would increase the trade deficit by that much more...

For example we pride ourselves with export of Aussie wheat, and that is good but this is used as an incentive to have more mega farms that produce megatones of the stuff for more export Deserts are cultivated with super-phosphate and all we need is a bad drought year to kill off the whole thing. In the process we are forced into not producing much else that could not compete on price because of the exchange rates — played by the financiers gambling to double their moneys, usually equivalent to ten times more than the primary producer could ever dream of — are already tilting the playing fields in their favour...

Let's say importing an ounce of food in this country is a scandal! Importing beef while we export beef is ludicrously crazy!

As well, organic produce could be such a boon for this country but it is being hemmed in by a system that enforces super-low production cost, using artificial fertilisers and dangerous insecticides for mono-cultural corporations...

Slowly the whole food lot is being compromised with GM products, to the delight of the people of Monsanto. Yes, big businessmen are smiling too because every step of the way, importing and exporting the same stuff from here or over there, does not matter where does not matter what, they collect their percentage of wheeler-dealer. The government too collects GST and taxes on bigger profits. Profits come from the frivolous rather than from necessity... The whole system is insane. ...

Imagine a world where we would not need to import our necessities... Well, we could be there for a slightly bigger outlay but then it would cut out the corporations that actually make the money not so much on what they sell but on the currency they use to buy the stuff in the first place. This is a scandal of the first order. The mechanics of it are well hidden in the depth of business deals and in our governments desires to go along with the greater globalisation no mater the result. This will only keep people enslaved, should the new Johnnee IR laws get passed.... Most of Johnnee's illusion of financial success in management of the Aussie economy was due to an artificially made buoyant real estate market rather than anything being truly created. Johnnee got away with it and with his grand prize of the senate is ready to enforce the capitalistic fascism that always was his dream...

Without the cheap goods flooding the China, inflation would be on double digits...

The long run of Johnnee's legacy on trade is at best very crummy and at worst highly catastrophic... but the grand illusion lingers on...

moo to you to .....

The Editor,

Sydney Morning Herald.                                                             October 26, 2005. 


Moo to you to (‘No threat to bull market for Australian beef’, Herald, October 26)!! 


Japanese plans to allow resumption of US beef imports were formulated in response to US threats of trade sanctions & the ‘watering-down’ of international standards by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), an arm of the US dominated World Trade Organization, rather than any conviction that US beef is ‘safe’. 


Claims that beef ‘no older than 20 months’ is low risk for BSE contamination have no basis in science & ignore the facts that BSE contamination arises as a result of cattle being fed other ground-up animal parts (a practice condemned by the World Health Organization but still permitted in the US); that the incubation period for BSE is 6 to 7 years & that the US refuses to introduce 100% testing of slaughtered animals, as required in the UK & Europe (with even voluntary testing by growers banned by the US government). 


If we are naïve enough to believe that future cases of new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (nvCJD – the human variant of mad cow’s disease) amongst Japanese consumers would not affect all beef sales, including our own, we’ll believe anything. 


However, of even greater concern for Australian consumers should be reports that the Australian government is considering lifting current import bans on US beef, just as the Japanese are doing, in order to comply with our obligations under the US / Australia Free Trade Agreement - an action recently described by Professor Linda Weiss of Sydney University as ‘an act of insanity on an economic level’. 


And, in case you think you could avoid the problem by just not eating any US beef, be aware that Food Standards Australia recently decided not to adopt country of origin labelling for imported beef in its latest review of food labelling requirements.   


Concerns for the real safety & protection of consumers are no match against today’s big-monied business interests & their political & bureaucratic handmaidens. 


the more things change...

From Mungo MacCallum

Our prime minister’s response to Berrygate, the hepatitis contamination of some brands of imported frozen fruit, was swift and to the point.

He defended Australia’s “very effective bio-security system” and added for good measure: “it is the duty of business not to poison its customers.”

Well, quite – unless, of course, the business happens to be the tobacco industry. And sometimes it's not as obvious as it could be that the booze and food industries believe they have a duty to not poison their own customers with alcohol and excessive quantities of sugar.

But what Tony Abbott was talking about was negligence: foods that had escaped the loosely strung net of self-regulation to end up with inconvenient or dangerous consequences for the consumer. The question is what can be done about it, if anything. Apparently the answer is not much.

Read from top... 10 years earlier...