COLORADO—If you were Japan or China, would you rather take your chances with mad cow disease, or meltdown and arguably the worst air pollution in the world?
The two U.S. senators from this state, Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, know the answer. That’s why both have urged the U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Ambassador Ron Kirk to continue pressing the two nations which aren’t budging on their restrictions on the importation of U.S. beef, according to a report in the Longmont Times-Call.
In a letter co-signed by 36 other U.S. senators, the agency and ambassador are asked to prod China and Japan to curtail their “unscientific restrictions to U.S. beef products,” which came about after the 2003 diagnosis of the first detected case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in the U.S.
They noted that, after the first documented case, the U.S. came up with rigid safeguards, leading the World Organization for Animal Health to declare American beef of all ages safe.
“Despite this finding, Japan still maintains an unscientific ban on U.S. beef over 20 months of age,” the senators wrote. Consequently, beef exports to Japan fall well below, by $1 billion, those made before 2003.
“Similarly, China has been the fastest growing market for U.S. exports overall during the last decade,” continued the senators, “but remains the only major market closed to U.S. beef due to BSE.”
This discourse (or disconnect) between competing countries should remind us all that politics and payback can be strange bedfellows.
For example, it was not that long ago that China was exporting melamine-tainted pet food that killed domestic dogs and cats around the U.S., dairy products also laced with the organic base, lead-laden toys endangering children and toxic (high sulfur) sheetrock discovered in American homes.
This is the country we are paradoxically indebted to, literally.
When the earthquake and tsunami double-teamed Japan, triggering the Fukushima nuclear meltdown and ensuing spread of radioactive particles detectable not only on our west coast beaches, but well into the mainland, how did America respond to the Rising Sun’s tragedy?
Like the rest of the world, with serious doubt that Japanese government and nuclear plant executives were reporting true contamination indices, for their own people or the planet.
And both China and Japan are worried about our control of mad cow disease? After the endorsement of the World Organization for Animal Health?
Proof once again that the world order is more influenced than we realize by the global economy, weather and politics. What happens in Greece does matter, eventually, to you and me. Same goes for Somalia or Australia. Spain or the Ukraine.
For sure, what happens in Washington, or doesn’t, can reorder the world view.
Mad, and not going to take it any more? Democrat, Republican, Tea Partier, Libertarian or Independent, we’ll all get our say on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012.