Food Imports Often Escape Scrutiny

– I’m a former systems analyst. I spent years digging around in software systems and learning all the ways things can go wrong in systems. As I’ve been writing and thinking about the world’s gathering problems these last years, a strong revelation has been growing on me: many of our problems are caused because we put profits before people.

– Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m not against Capitalism. It is the prime engine of creativity and wealth generation in today’s world. What I am against, however, is letting Capitalism sit at the top of the decision maker’s priority pile.

– In my opinion, we can and should decide for ourselves what kind of a world we want to live in. I’d prefer to live in one in which the good of people and the environment they live in is the paramount concern and Capitalism has to take a back seat to that. That still leaves a huge playing field for Capitalism and it wouldn’t disadvantage Capitalists either, so long as the entire world played by the same rules thus generating a level playing field for the competitors.

– So, back to this story. Food imports – many of them coming out of China – are now making up a significant portion of what we Americans are eating. And there’s lack supervision and inspection of what’s coming into the country bound for our tables. China was recently found to be putting chemicals into the wheat glutens they sell to us to improve the ‘apparent’ protein content to the material and thus improve its price. I read the other day that this is an ‘open secret’ in China – everyone’s doing it.

– The Chinese, like profit obsessed Capitalists everwhere, are willing to play fast and loose with things that affect human welfare and health to boost their bottom line. And why shouldn’t they? After all, they subscribe to the theory that profit comes first – and all else (including the welfare of other people) takes second place.

– Here in the US, we have the FDA which attempts to inspect our incoming food. But it is woefully under funded and understaffed. Why? Its activities are seen by Capitalist oriented minds here as being a money sink rather than a source so they fund it as little as they can to give the appearance that we have a strong and vibrant FDA providing good and necessary services for the good of the people – when it fact, we have a hobbled and lame FDA which is much more a cardboard store-front than it is an agency fully staffed and funded in a manner commensurate with its assigned duties and responsibilities.

– You watch. There will be a crises at some point where some crap from China or some other place with lax standards, slips into our food supplies and people die. And then there will be a most amazing display of shock and outrage on Capital Hill as everyone, who previously was content to ignore the FDA’s plight, suddenly wants to know, “How the hell this could happen?”. Watch – it’ll be great and instructive theater on why we should begin to rearrange the priorities of our societies away from Capitalistic dominant models to something else that acknowledges that people are what this planet’s resources and our governments should be primarily about.

– Here an axiomatic thought to ponder: You cannot simultaneously have two or more number one priorities.


Early in the 20th century, the safeguarding of food at American ports often amounted to inspectors from the Food and Drug Administration prying open containers of molasses or sugar and examining them for mold or insect parts.

The F.D.A. has come a way since then. But not much more.

Last year, inspectors sampled just 20,662 shipments out of more than 8.9 million that arrived at American ports. China, which in one decade has become the third-largest exporter of food, by value, to the United States, sent 199,000 shipments, of which less than 2 percent were sampled, former officials with the agency said.

Now, as F.D.A. inspectors travel to China to investigate the source of contaminated pet food that has killed at least 16 dogs and cats and sickened thousands of others, critics in Washington are warning that the agency is woefully understaffed and underfinanced to keep America’s food supply safe.

“The public thinks the food supply is much more protected than it is,” said William Hubbard, a former associate commissioner who left in 2005 after 27 years at the agency. “If people really knew how weak the F.D.A. program is, they would be shocked.”

Globalization and new manufacturing capabilities have changed the makeup of the food that Americans put on their table. Food processors in the United States are buying a greater number of ingredients from other countries, becoming more of an assembler in the nation’s food supply chain.

“With globalization, American food processors are turning to less-developed countries to get food ingredients because they can get them so much more cheaply,” Mr. Hubbard said.


– This article is from the NY Times and they insist that folks have an ID and a PW in order to read their stuff. You can get these for free just by signing up. However, recently, a friend of mine suggested the website :arrow: as an alternative to having to do these annoying sign ups. Check it out. Thx Bruce S. for the tip.

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