As the news unfolds, we’re staying on top of mad-cow hysteria and activist hype. Here’s a sampling of what’s on our radar screen today.

A mad-cow-related editorial in the Las Vegas Review-Journal called “Candidates do no favors by promoting far-fetched fears” argues: “the greatest danger to America’s meat industry right now may lie in the tendency of politicians desperate for a campaign issue to play on irrational fears, rather than using their bully pulpits to re-introduce some sensible perspective to this debate.”

United States Department of Agriculture veterinarian, Dr. Kenneth Petersen, states: “The recalled meat represents essentially zero risk to consumers.”

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is launching a series of billboards and print ads during the next few weeks that play on mad cow fears to scare people away from all meat. PETA’s message depicts a chicken with a machine gun and the words, “If the beef doesn’t kill you, I will.” (link requires subscription)

Last night Fast Food Nation author and anti-fast food activist Eric Schlosser told CNN: “I don’t think anyone should eat ground beef.”

A California group called LocalHarvest has been steering the public toward grass-fed, organic, and “locally grown” beef for the benefit of its for-profit supporters. LocalHarvest executive director, Guillermo Payet, wrote on one Internet listserv that having a mad-cow diagnosis in the United States “does seem to have the
silver lining of promoting more sustainable beef production practices
.”

Farm Aid is circulating a “media availability” that offers several anti-industry activists as “farmer experts” on mad-cow related subjects. These include National Family Farm Coalition president George Naylor, Family Farm Defenders president John Kinsman, and Northern Plains Resource Council board member
Dena Hoff
. All three professional activists are described as ordinary farmers.

Activists in Washington state are circulating a rumor on Internet “sustainable agriculture” listservs, suggesting that the U.S. mad cow case may be related to “a ‘sloppy’ radioactive materials dump.”

Appearing on Fox News Channel’s “O’Reilly Factor,” New York University professor (and frequent obesity-warrior) Marion Nestle argued: “I think people at home should be voting with their forks. This is a political issue … This is a very good time to buy organic.” Even so, Nestle conceded: “very few people will be affected, if any” by mad-cow illness.