In mid December, 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 its cows, and still allows high-risk feeding practices to cows that are banned in Japan. For example, U.S. factory farms are still allowed to feed cattle blood and slaughterhouse waste.
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. Learn more: http://www.organicconsumers.org/madcow.htm
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