How we do things in this country, according to last Sunday's New York Times:
Wal-Mart ... has been a pioneer in using the tools of information technology to track every purchase, every shipment of supplies, every cost of doing business, minute by minute, around the world. If a Chinese factory can supply a toy for a few cents cheaper than a domestic plant, the business goes offshore in a heartbeat.
--Steve Lohr, "Questioning the Age of Wal-Mart"
Without admitting any error, the [Agriculture] department has rapidly increased the number of cattle it tests annually. It went from testing 219 in 1997 (the year it banned the feeding of ruminants to other ruminants) to 20,526 last year. By contrast, European countries tested 10 million animals last year.
--Donald G. McNeil Jr., "Probability, Luck and One Mad Cow"
Oh, but as yesterday's Times pointed out,
the number of cows tested for the disease, bovine spongiform encephalopathy, in the United States is expected to double in 2004, to 40,000 a year from 20,000....
That number is only a tiny fraction of the 35 million cows slaughtered each year.
Dammit, let's nationalize Wal-Mart. Make their computer geeks track the cows -- all of 'em.
By the way, if you want to be even more squeamish about our meat supply, there's scary stuff at the Organic Consumers Association's mad cow disease page. As you learn from the linked stories, it's not just meat muckrakers of long standing who are disgusted -- it's The Wall Street Journal. Very disturbring. (Thanks for the link, Hope.)
A stray thought -- I wonder if the fact that the BSE cow was from Canada is going to be used by the Bush administration to reinforce the message that Americans can't trust Canadian pharmaceuticals. It wouldn't surprise me.