While the industry reaction to R-CALF's earlier attacks on the safety of U.S. beef were widely condemned, most critics considered them unfortunate lapses in judgment that some organizations make in the heat of the battle. R-CALF made it clear this week, however, that the organization believes that the end does justify any means.
The group held a press conference on Thursday, hand in hand with radical anti-beef activist groups, to denounce USDA's handling of the BSE situation. The press event in Washington, D.C., questioned the safety of beef, and called for government hearings on the matter.
The decision to align with such radical anti-beef groups seems all the more surprising considering that many within R-CALF hope to make the organization mainstream and represent producers on a wide spectrum of issues. Instead, this latest R-CALF blunder seems to push them more in the direction of radical activism than mainstream representation.
As could be expected, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and other groups issued blistering press releases questioning R-CALF's decision and motives. It's shocking, following the disastrous statements regarding beef safety just a few weeks ago, that rather than issue an apology, the organization confirms to all that it is willing to destroy beef demand in order to further its isolationist, protectionist, anti-trade policies.
R-CALF has some legitimate concerns and issues, and a significant number of good cattlemen who support its positions. But, it's time for R-CALF to make radical changes in its leadership structure so such inexcusable mistakes aren't repeated. R-CALF's members have far too much invested to have the organization lose all credibility or be subverted by these radical stands.
For a moment, consider the caliber of groups R-CALF publicly aligned itself with this week:
- The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is famous for opposing irradiation, and pushing for the reduction of beef in the school lunch program among other things. CFA's leader, Carol Tucker Foreman, is famous for her anti-beef rhetoric and efforts to stir up the hysteria about the safety of our product.
- The Consumer Union (CU), along with CFA, have been two of the leading groups pushing since Dec. 23, 2003, the message that beef is unsafe. You've probably read the multitude of inaccurate statements by CU "leader" Michael Hansen in the popular press. Hansen and the CU have also led the crusade against biotechnology and GMOs.
The following is a quote from former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop in regard to Hansen's rhetoric: "Unfortunately, a few fringe groups are using misleading statements and blatant falsehoods as part of a long-running campaign to scare consumers about a perfectly safe food ... it is necessary to condemn these attacks ... for what they are: baseless, manipulative and completely irresponsible."
- Then there's Public Citizen (PC), which gains its supposed credibility through founder Ralph Nader. But PC is best known for its membership in the Global Safe Food Alliance, formed by such animal rights organizations as Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, the Western Organization of Resource Councils, Farm Sanctuary, etc., to put out anti-meat messages. If you want more information on PC, just go to its Web site at www.citizen.org/, check out the "Meatrix" at www.themeatrix.com/ or the report "Jungle 2000" at www.whistleblower.org/uploads/The%20Jungle%202000%20-.PDF.