Mad Cow Disease–Web 2.0 to the rescue

A story about someone secretly taking video inside a slaughterhouse, documenting the mistreatment of cattle. Those who shot the video, probably with a very small camera, seem to have been acting mainly from the perspective of reducing cruelty to animals (certainly a good thing to do) but there is also a public health perspective to this as well:

USDA extends meat ban at Calif slaughterhouse

Westland Meat Co. voluntarily suspended operations last week after the release of undercover video taken by the Humane Society of the United States was released. The video showed, among other things, ramming of cattle with forklifts, and workers kicking, shocking and otherwise abusing “downed” cows – considered too sick or injured to walk – to force them into the federally inspected slaughterhouse.

“Downed Cows” or “downers” are known to be possible carriers of BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy aka Mad Cow Disease) and the few documented case of BSE are perhaps the tip of the iceberg. But remember that when one beef producer wanted to test all of their cows for BSE, the Bush administration sued to prevent them from doing that, on the grounds that if one producer did that they would “disparage” the quality of the rest of the beef. So much for market forces and freedom of the press!

This is just another example, as noted here and here, of the advantages that accrue to those NFP players who are seeking to further the public good under Web 2.0. (Note that those NFP’s that are seeking to further special or corporate interests don’t do so well under Web 2.0, as noted here*.) This is, of course, in addition to the other advantages the NFP sector had already been accruing during the 1990’s which I’ve written about here.

The link to the video and more below the fold:

Another important question is: why do we need the Humane Society to take this video? The USDA has responsibility here, and they didn’t do their job. The spokesman from the USDA hints that the plant may have been tipped of about the inspections, but more likely it seems that the attitude of the Bush administration of being ‘friendly to business’ has trickled down to the inspection staff.

But thanks to you tube and some brave whistle blower (who deserves some reward, really) here’s the video:

* The question could be made how do I distinguish between those NFP’s that are acting for special interests and those that are public spirited, afterall, one man’s pill is another man’s posion, right? Wrong! There is an objective test: Does the organization seek to increase the diffusion of information, or to suppress information? For example, those that seek to disseminate the truth about global warming are increasing their connectivity, and this is both evidence of their public spiritedness and a measure of their success in their struggle. Those that seek to suppress information about global warming are losing their connectivity, and as Col Boyd would say “descending into collective insanity through false internal dialogs” Boyd correctly understood any struggle to be all about connectivity. That’s why it will be essential, absolutely essential for those who are fighting for special interests and against progressive social change to stifle the internet, through either corporate control or government regulation, or both. Thus the fight for net neutrality is very important! Also, you can usually tell by the NFP’s funding sources–if their funding comes from ExxonMobil, you can bet their focus is on the interests of ExxonMobil. If their funding comes from a widely distributed membersip who derive no direct financial benefit from the actions of that NFP, it’s a good bet that their motivation will be in the public interest. Of, course that doesn’t mean that they are always right.

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Mad Cow Disease–Web 2.0 to the rescue

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