Debunking the mRNA controversy

Amanda Radke

It has been said a “lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth can tie its tennis shoes.”I would like to address a myth that has spread like wildfire on social media in the last couple of weeks.It’s the claim that mRNA vaccines are being used on cattle and are tainting our meat supply. When I say that I’ve received hundreds, upon hundreds, of emails and messages on this, it is not an exaggeration.I have even see labeled beef companies claim their beef is “mRNA free,” which is a disingenuous marketing claim at best, that is preying on people’s fears and emotions at a time when they have genuine concerns about our beef products.So, let’s address the elephant in the room and hopefully we can alleviate some consumer concerns on this topic.First and foremost, let me be clear, there are currently zero mRNA vaccines that are licensed for use in beef cattle in the United States.All livestock vaccines are licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) following rigorous testing for both safety and efficacy. The USDA has robust post marketing surveillance for any adverse events caused by on market vaccines.What’s more, beef cattle producers work closely with a trusted veterinarian to set up vaccination protocols for their animals. Partnering with veterinarians is important as they are uniquely educated and trained in animal health. Plus, ranchers can create vaccination protocols, in collaboration with their veterinarian, that address specific needs of the cattle and to help them build immunity to prevent disease.All that being said, I want to acknowledge consumers deserve their questions answered. This technology has come into question following the release of mRNA vaccines for COVID-19 our consumers have every right to demand transparency, clarity and real as well as trusted data on issues they are concerned about.For those of us in the beef industry, we should take pause and note how this misconception is impacting a large segment of our customer base. These are folks who genuinely love beef and want to eat more of it, but they want to do it with confidence.Our consumers deserve clarity in a label, not fear, guilt, misdirection and half-truths.This issue clearly highlights the need for more transparency in our labeling whether that’s country of origin, natural, organic, grass fed, etc. This would also apply to new technologies being introduced whether its mRNA vaccines, gene editing or creating meat in a petri dish.In our efforts for continual forward progress in agriculture, as we look to implement new technologies, we need to consider the ethical, moral, food safety, animal health, human health and environmental impacts of our decisions. And most importantly, we need to reassure the general public along the way. They truly love the beef we raise and in this case it’s a shame that fear based marketing tactics have spread as far and wide as they have.Amanda Radke is a South Dakota rancher, a writer, and motivational speaker, specializing in the beef industry, social media and consumer trends. Contact her at