Politics 101

From this morning’s Times:

After a case of mad cow disease surfaced in Washington State late last year, federal regulators vowed to move swiftly to adopt rules to reduce the risks of further problems and restore confidence in the nation’s meat industry.

Some rules were adopted this year. But a few weeks ago, the Food and Drug Administration, after heavy lobbying from the beef and feed industries, took steps to delay – and to the concern of food safety groups, possibly kill – completion of the most controversial and perhaps most expensive proposal for cattle companies.

That proposal would sharply restrict what could be included in animal feed. Shortly after the administration slowed its consideration of the rule, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association broke its nonpartisan tradition and endorsed President Bush.

Translation: Federal regulators wanted the cattle industry to stop feeding their herds the ground up carcasses of diseased cattle, cow cannibalism being the method by which mad cow disease spreads from one cow to the next. But apparently the elimination of this handy source of animal feed would cost the cattle industry some money, so lobbyists whispered in the right ear, and the proposed regulation was scuttled. In short, the Bush administration is playing politics with public health in exchange for an endorsement.

Think about that the next time you eat a hamburger. Or enter a voting booth.