As a vegan, testing or not testing for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (Mad Cow Disease) isn’t a particular concern. One cow with the disease, or one billion cows, my brain is going to continue functioning nicely. (Open to interpretation, of course.) And the politics involved, through subsidies for meat and dairy production, preclude my “Save the cows” pleas from making any headway. So, instead of complaining or applauding the wisdom of the Agriculture Department’s decision to cut testing for BSE, I’ll highlight this quote from the story about the possible impact of the decision:
“It surely will not encourage consumers in the U.S. or Japan to rush to the store to buy more beef,” said Carol Tucker Foreman, food-policy director for Consumer Federation of America.
The government shouldn’t be in the business of encouraging consumers to buy more beef. Or less beef. Or chicken instead of beef. Or beets instead of chicken. Or… you get the point.
If consumers want beef, they’ll buy it. If they deem BSE or any other possible contamination to be a risk, their inevitable decision to stop buying beef will suggest responses from beef marketers. They could stop selling beef. This might be necessary if the cost of testing proved prohibitive to what consumers are willing to pay. More likely, they would test their beef, which would raise their costs. They would pass that increase to their consumers. Taxpayers like me, who do not consume the beef we’re all paying to protect, would no longer be forced to artificially support the carnivorous habits of everyone else.
Capitalism. It’s what’s for America.