20 May 2007

They know what they're doing

In the wake of stories about contaminated, deadly imported Chinese ingredients in pet foods and medicines, the media are digging deeper into the problem. What they're finding is that the danger is both larger in scale and more horrifying in character than it seemed at first.

The addition of melamine to pet food (intended to cause the protein content to appear higher on tests than it actually is) has been going on for years, despite the obvious danger. Why hasn't it killed any pets in the US before now? How do we know it hasn't? Animals do get sick and die now and then. It may well be that no one noticed a pattern until recently. The point is, this is not just an isolated occurrence in an otherwise-sound Chinese industry. It's an established practice. They know what they're doing.

And it's not just animal food. Dangerous contamination of food items meant for export is common in China. It's a widespread, systematic practice caused by a combination of the desire to do everything in the cheapest way possible, an utter lack of concern for the health of potential victims in other countries, and the lack of effective regulation under a corrupt totalitarian state where bribery of officials is routine.

Notice that even in those cases where our pathetic FDA does find something dangerous, the only action taken is to return it to China -- and that the Chinese exporters then just keep shipping it to the US again until it gets through. This is with food supplies already found to be dangerous. They know what they're doing.

Perhaps most disgusting of all is this passage, attempting to explain why US control of food imports from China is so ineffective:

Dead pets and melamine-tainted food notwithstanding, change will prove difficult, policy experts say, in large part because U.S. companies have become so dependent on the Chinese economy that tighter rules on imports stand to harm the U.S. economy, too.

"So many U.S. companies are directly or indirectly involved in China now, the commercial interest of the United States these days has become to allow imports to come in as quickly and smoothly as possible," said Robert B. Cassidy, a former assistant U.S. trade representative for China and now director of international trade and services for Kelley Drye Collier Shannon, a Washington law firm.

So we have to allow flagrantly-unsafe products into the American food supply for the sake of the convenience and profitability of American companies?! By that logic, why don't we all just eat mud and dog droppings from our front yards? That way nobody will need to spend any money on food at all!

Our own food companies will not protect us. Our own government, at least under the current administration which is in the pocket of just such corporate interests and is ideologically opposed to strict regulation (except in the cases of marijuana and sexual behavior), will not protect us. We need to protect ourselves. When shopping for food, look before you buy! Where did it come from?

For that matter, I think that all Americans should avoid buying anything made in China, even non-food items. You wouldn't keep on patronizing a business which knowingly sold you a defective and unsafe product. Do you want to send your money to people who have been knowingly exporting dangerously toxic food here for years?

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