On Monday, the Japanese government partially lifted a ban on U.S.
beef, despite a pledge by Japanese consumers to boycott American
beef. Japan was one of 60 countries that banned American beef in
2003, based on the discovery of Mad Cow Disease in the U.S. and
poor testing procedures for the fatal disease by the USDA. While
Japan tests all of its cattle for Mad Cow Disease, the U.S. tests
only a tiny fraction of our cows, and still allows dangerous feeding
practices to cows that are banned in Japan. Routine U.S. practices
on non-organic farms include feeding the animals blood, slaughterhouse
waste, and manure. The Japanese ban cost American ranchers about
$3.1 billion over the last two years, prompting the Bush Administration
to threaten Japan with economic reprisals. Despite a Kyodo News
Agency poll last week that found that a full 75% of Japanese consumers
would refuse to purchase U.S. beef if the ban was lifted, the Japanese
government has agreed to allow imports from the U.S. for cattle
slaughtered under the age of 21 months.