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As a cattle rancher, I was disappointed to see your site run the recent column by Arianna Huffington ("Cipro: It's What's for Dinner"). Huffington's allegations were irresponsible, ignored current science on important issues of food safety and were factually incorrect. In addition, they were offensive to the 1 million men and women who work very hard to put safe, wholesome beef on America's dinner tables.
Despite Huffington's assertions, those of us who produce America's food think a plentiful, safe, nutritious food supply is important to our national security and quality of life.
Huffington's attempt to scare consumers about beef and hormones failed to consider the wide body of international research that confirms the safety of approved and accepted practices to help cattle grow efficiently and put on more lean muscle and less fat.
She talked about hormones as if they were some kind of poison, yet hormones naturally exist in virtually all plant and animal foods, and the human body produces more hormones in a day than could ever be consumed by eating any kind of food. Beef actually contains very low levels of hormones (less than 2 billionths of a gram of estrogen per serving). Comparable servings of many plant foods -- potatoes, peas, cabbage, soy foods -- contain much higher levels of estrogen than beef.
American cattlemen should be commended for their track record, not only in food safety but also in environmental stewardship and protection of natural resources. We manage more land than any other U.S. industry, and we manage it well. We have to because our land is not only the source of our livelihood, it is also is our legacy to future generations of cattlemen.
Huffington is entitled to her opinions, but she is not entitled to ignore fact and science in presenting those opinions. In particular, there is no excuse for lumping the hardworking farmers of this country into the same category as terrorists, even in jest. Her goal apparently was to poke fun at President Bush. However, her column contained misleading and unfounded criticism of the beef industry, and we take very seriously our responsibility as food producers. Our goal is to continue to produce safe, nutritious, high-quality beef for your family and mine.
-- Wythe Willey
President, National Cattlemen's Beef Association