Thursday, September 11, 2008

Mark of the Beef

Several community cattle farmers, including many Amish, are suing the federal government for requiring them to implant RFID tags into their livestock. The government says RFID tagging will help track the movement of diseases through cattle populations, but the farmers maintain that the tags violate their religious beliefs in two ways: for one, they would be forced to use technology they otherwise wouldn’t, and for another, RFID tags are the Mark of the Beast. For those who’ve never read the classic fantasy novel called the Bible, the Mark of the Beast is the number (often referred to as “666”) which those living in the end times will have to have printed on their hands or foreheads in order to purchase goods or services under the rule of the villainous Satan and his evil minions. This lawsuit doesn’t seem like it will hold up, since the Amish are already legally required to violate their technology-shunning ways when it comes to public safety—posting reflectors on their horse carriages, for instance. Also, RFID tags probably aren’t the Mark of the Beast, since they aren’t tattooed numbers and Satan is a figment of pop culture. However, the lawsuit also claims the government has no evidence that RFID tags reduce animal disease. While I don’t know if this is true, it’s at least a testable, fact-based objection. So, you know, good for the farmers, I suppose. More details here.

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