Speaking of holding back information ...
One of my Canadian informants alerted me to this tale of whistle-blowing. It seems that, possibly, the U.S. Department of Agriculture might be really anxious to get cattle and beef moving across the U.S.-Canada border again.
Lester Friedlander, now a consumer advocate, was fired from his job as head of inspections at a large meat-packing plant in Philadelphia in 1995 after criticizing what he called unsafe practices.
Mr. Friedlander said U.S. Department of Agriculture veterinarians sent suspect cow brains to private laboratories, which confirmed they were infected with mad cow disease. Samples from the same animals, however, were cleared by government labs.
If Friedlander is telling the truth, this is a Very Big Deal. At the very least, this would be a case of withholding potentially relevant information. ("Here's your beef. Our lab says it's fine, but this other lab says maybe Mad Cow, so ... maybe you'll want to be careful, eh? You guys still say 'eh', right?") At worst, it would mean USDA labs were ... making up the results they wanted? Guys, this is veterinary biomedicine, not economics!
And for sure, the government has an interest in trade. But perhaps the government's scientists could keep their focus on the matters of scientific fact and let the other bits of the bureaucracy (which, I keep hearing, are legion) attend to the other stuff?