Monday, May 21, 2007

With Food Poisoning for All

In last week's GOP presidential debate, former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani huffed that Senator Hillary Clinton believes "we must take taxes to give them to the common good." That remark came to mind when I read the front-page piece in Sunday's Washington Post by Rick Weiss on the flow of unsafe (really unsafe!) foods from China into the United States. It was a rather frightening and (stomach) upsetting articles. He noted:

For years, U.S. inspection records show, China has flooded the United States with foods unfit for human consumption. And for years, FDA inspectors have simply returned to Chinese importers the small portion of those products they caught -- many of which turned up at U.S. borders again, making a second or third attempt at entry.

And Weiss added,

In the first four months of 2007, FDA inspectors -- who are able to check out less than 1 percent of regulated imports -- refused 298 food shipments from China.

So for all those government-and-taxes-hating conservatives out there--particularly those running for the Republican presidential primary, here's a question: do you believe that Americans should not be sufficiently taxed in order to have a food safety system that actually works? Or would they prefer to have the free market take care of this? Which would mean permitting Americans to get sick or die so the market could then determine which suppliers have to lower their prices.

I've said--and you may hear me say this again--that since 9/11 the presidential race is a contest in which the public will be electing a commander in chief. That is, national security can trump all else. Still, over the years, I've wondered why candidates--particularly Democrats--do not make more of such kitchen-table (!) issues as food safety. Does anyone believe that Republicans will indeed do more to guarantee that you (and, more important, your pet) consume food that is not laced with poisons from China and elsewhere?

The bigger issue, of course, is globalization. Here's one major downside to globalization: food that can kill. Few candidates talk much about the challenges of globalization in anything but platitudes. Yet there's nothing abstract about food. Save our pet food. And perhaps even our human food.

SAVE THE DATE. I am officially introducing a new feature: the See You in September Spotter. As noted in Friday's posting (below), many legislators in Washington (particularly Republicans) have been supporting George W. Bush on the war but increasingly saying that Bush has until September to show progress or...else. What's the else? They're not really specifying that. They're only noting that come summer's end whatever support Bush on Capitol Hill among Republicans could collapse. So let's keep watching for those who warn about the September.

The latest to do so is Republican Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. He recently warned:

"My sense among Republican senators is we know very well that the current course is not a sustainable course over a longer period of time. If we drift into September, [the president] may not be able to find a bipartisan basis to support a long-term limited interest in Iraq."

Let's check on him in September. If you see any September warnings, please email me at

HIS AIM IS TRUE? I witnessed a brilliant Elvis Costello concert on Friday night. He has (again) re-released his earlier albums and, thus, he ran through many of his greatest hits in fine and intense form. He also threw in a dash of politics by leading the audience in a chant: "Bring the boys home/Bring 'em back alive." He ended the show with the not-so-subtle song "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding." But a review of the show noted that tickets for it could only be bought with the credit card that had sponsored the concert. That was a bit disappointing. (I got my ticket from a friend--and paid him with a check.) Costello is entitled to maximize his revenue stream. But what about fans who don't hold the appropriate card? Welcome to the working week--and corporate synergy.

Posted by David Corn at May 21, 2007 11:21 AM


micki said...

Yes, kitchen table issues and 'medicine cabinet' issues should be ON THE TABLE!

Maybe the plan is, if they can't kill us with tainted food, they can kill us with bad medicines!

Today, there is another drug under question -- Avandia (GlaxoSmithKline) - for possible safety concerns. Doctors involved in the new analysis of the diabetes medication said the drug
"represents a major failure of the drug-use and drug-approval processes in the United States."

When the drug was approved, "evidence was at best mixed" on its benefit, they said. They have been frequent critics of the FDA's failure to spot dangers in the drug approval process and its conduct in the case involving Vioxx.

Several experts said Avandia was another example of the FDA failing to detect a safety problem early enough.

Buy local. Buy organic. And say "no" to drugs -- especially Big Pharma drugs!

capt said...

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