“Downers,” cows too sick or weak to stand on their own, will no longer be slaughtered and allowed to enter our food supply. President Obama announced that The Agriculture Department has banned the practice, closing a loophole and lessening the odds of humans contracting mad cow disease (bovine spongiform encephalopathy).
There are two very important issues involved here. First, our system of keeping the nation’s food supply safe has proven to be woefully insufficient. Recent years have seen large-scale recalls of beef, peanut butter, spinach, and peppers, causing severe illness and death. The blatant disregard for others and the sheer recklessness of pushing sick and dying animals into the human food supply is shocking.
The Obama administration has taken a positive step forward, but must be vigilant about making sure that The Agriculture Department and the Food and Drug Administration are working in the best interests of the American people.
Second, the cruelty and downright torture of animals is an abomination.
Last year, graphic footage of sick cows being beaten and terrorized in order to make them walk to slaughter horrified the nation. We watched as workers, seemingly blind to the pain and suffering they caused, used shocks and forklift blades, kicked with their feet, and sprayed water into the nostrils of downed cows in an effort to force them to walk into the slaughterhouse on their own.
As troubling as it was to watch, few of us would have believed the harsh reality had we not seen it for ourselves. There can be no acceptable excuse for such behavior. That we have allowed such atrocities does not speak well of us.
We’ve taken a positive step forward. Let’s keep the momentum going.