Monday, April 30, 2007

Eat my toxic waste, please!

Would you buy food, for yourself or your pets, from someone who says:
“ ‘It just saves money if you add melamine scrap,’ said the manager of an animal feed factory here [in China…] ‘People use melamine scrap to boost nitrogen levels for the tests… If you add it in small quantities, it won’t hurt the animals.’ ”
The New York Times report on the widespread pet food poisoning uses the word “supplemented” when accuracy demands the word “adulterated”:
“For years, producers of animal feed all over China have secretly supplemented their feed with the substance, called melamine, a cheap additive that looks like protein in tests… [Few] in agriculture [in Zhangqiu] see any harm in using melamine in small doses; they simply see it as cheating a little on protein, not harming animals or pets.”

Sure, what’s a “little” cheating among trading partners?

This attitude needs to be exposed for what it is: a betrayal of trust. Once that trust is broken, never again can we rely on them to provide food products that are clean and unadulterated and described with honesty. Without trust, what do you have? Why would you knowingly consume foods produced by those who see nothing wrong with a “little” cheating if it brings them more money? What other toxic waste will they offload into your dinner?

Many are blaming the U.S. Food & Drug Administration for lax oversight in the melamine case, but can they be expected to reliably test every food product that the manufacturer may have deliberately contaminated with some substance chosen because it’s not among those things checked by the testing? This is not the first food scandal in China, and the readiness of those involved to admit they were merely trying to fake out the tests for protein concentration, as if this were simply a reasonable means of cost-cutting competition, suggests a pervasive attitude of disrespect for their customers.

From the same NY Times article:
“Until China gets programs in place to verify the safety of their products, they need to be inspected by U.S. inspectors. This open-door policy on food ingredients is an open invitation for an attack on the food supply, either intentional or unintentional.”
This recommends a flawed policy. We in the U.S. cannot rely on the Chinese government to guarantee our food safety! There is no reason that we should trust the Chinese government to diligently oversee our safety, and many potential reasons that we should not trust them. What better way could there be to weaken one’s adversaries than to attack them in their food supply? Will we expect USFDA to test all imported foods for every possible neurotoxin and heavy metal and carcinogen and all toxic substances known to man? That is an impossibility!

Chinese agricultural exporters have violated our trust, and have contaminated our food. We U.S. consumers need to take notice, and avoid consuming other suspect products, like their Hongshuai soy sauce and the “amino acid powder” added to breads, both of which were found to be made from human hair processed with carcinogenic chemicals.

Melamine is only the tip of the iceberg. We ignore it at our peril.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Progress marches ever onward

“ ‘Day by day, block by block, Iraqi and American forces are making incremental gains in Baghdad,’ said Mr. Bush [April 20, 2007].”

data from:

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Glorifying EVIL

NBC did it. The New York Times did it. Probably every media outlet on earth did it. All of them chose to give the Virginia Tech gunman the forum that he wanted so badly that 32 innocents had to pay with their lives.

When will the press ever learn? They can report on the story without playing into the hands of a perpetrator of such evil. We can know all we need to know without ever seeing a photo of the monster, or hearing his/her name, or reading or listening to his/her demented rantings.

Sure, being the curiosity-driven creatures we are will lead us to leave the TV on, or read all the print stories, or study a photo of the face of hatred and evil with intensity and puzzlement. But what do we gain by it? Does it help us to avoid a repeat event? Sadly, the answer is just the opposite.

Every time there is a spectacularly vicious slaughter, we shower the murderer with attention and awe, saturating the air and print media with all manner of portrayal of mindset, history, crime specifics, images, and twisted philosophical spewage, effectively glorifying the act and the actor. And the result is utterly predictable: an immediate batch of imitators who want to share in such attention, and inspiration for others who will fester along until they can manage a suitable sequel.

Why do we tolerate this? Why is there not a law, or at least a general agreement, to withhold ALL attention from these nastiest specimens of humanity? They do not deserve our attention and indeed, by providing it we feed the forces of evil that spawn their imitators. Yes, attend to their victims and tell their tragic tales, but as if they’ve had their lives dashed by a meteor or accidental gas explosion, which in a way is a more accurate depiction of their experience. Because clearly, what has hit them was merely a loose cannon from our midst. Their lives have been lost, but by a random act (even as it was intentional).

Even worse is the suggestion of sympathy toward the madman—about his being taunted as a child or whatever. NO!!! It simply does not matter, is not explanatory, and does not in the least exonerate him from his grotesque massacre.

And finally, can we lose the stupidity of describing such people as “loners”? Those who commit evil but who are NOT loners are not thusly described but instead are described: “but he seemed so normal...” Being a (so-called) loner does not predispose one to such acts! And in fact, since domestic violence claims so many more lives, it could be argued that living in close proximity to others is the greater predictor of pathology.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

What corporations call “food”

The poisoned gluten in pet food that is killing people’s cats and dogs is merely the tip of a very large iceberg named Corporatized Food and we owe it to ourselves and our health to examine what we are choosing to consume in the guise of “food.” Believe it or not, the act of defining a substance as food does not make it so. Globalization and its absence of universal food safety standards only worsens the situation.

The well-named ChemNutra Corporation is the importer of the poisoned gluten which, according to reports is manufactured in less than pristine conditions:
“CNN’s John Vause traced it back [to…] a dusty, rural and rundown warehouse in Xuzhou, China, with no walls, no pavement and sacks and sacks of locally made gluten (9,000 tons a year)…”
Gluten is not only used in pet foods, but is also in many human foods as well, and the poisoned gluten was classed as human food grade, so it may well have entered the food supply somewhere.

This poisoned gluten episode brings to mind the recall of nearly twenty years ago, of L-tryptophan supplements that had resulted in the serious illness eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome when consumed, due to production changes that were made by the manufacturer.

What is unclear is why these various substances that are more chemical- than food-like continue to be consumed by people, and even more puzzling is why the items on the following list of ChemNutra’s products would be defined as “food” in the first place:

People (and their pets) are not simple chemo-mechanical bioreactors. We evolved to consume food, not the adulterated chemicals that go into the processed concoctions sold from supermarket shelves today. It should be obvious that it is not wise to rely on factory manufacture of our food products but apparently, there are few among us anymore who are able to accurately distinguish food from non-food. It really doesn’t get any more basic than that, when considering how best to provide sustenance for our selves.