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Archive for the ‘biotechnology’ Category

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Time for me to move on a bit. I have said all I want to say about gun control for a while. In this post I turn to an even more frightening example of the greed of the global capitalists, the engineering of the food supply.Genetic engineering and the food additive industries are currently nearly free to do as they wish with and to the food supply. The FDA has been traditionally slow to respond to problems in the food supply and tends to be overwhelmed in the exercise of their regulatory and inspection functions, mainly because the agency is underfunded and cannot adequately staff to fulfill its Congressional mandates.

There are significant unknown dangers in both producing and eating genetically engineered foods. For example see Genetically Engineered Food: A Self-Defense Guide for Consumers by Ronnie Cummins, Ben Lillston and Frances Moore Lappe who discuss the business of genetic engineering. Or read The Politics of Precaution: Genetically Modified Crops in Developing Countries (International Food Policy Research Institute), or The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, by Michael Pollan if you want to gain some insight into the absolute dangers of giving biotechnology a blank check to alter the food supply.

In the case of the clip below, the food additive industry, in the attempt to increase profits, add melamine to animal feed in order to boost protein. Animals, other than pets, eat that food and pass on the effects to humans. What is not know is the effect of melamine on people.

There are two possibilities here. One is that there is no effect. Oh sure, some goats and pigs and cattle may bite the dust but the deadly effect does not transfer to human beings when the flesh of these animals is eaten or the milk consumed, The other possibility is that there is a transfer effect from animal flesh or by products to human beings in which case some humans may die as a result of eating the tainted flesh.

There are some who would say lets wait until ALL the evidence is in before we act. I suspect these are the same people who say let’s not respond to global warming because not all the evidence is in. Others respond by seeking appropriate regulation of an essentially unregulated industry NOW in order to avert a potential disaster. I fall in the latter crowd. It is better to do something than nothing. It is better to place one’s bets in the ethical support of action than to ignore the potential danger to humans.

clipped from www.chicagotribune.com
WASHINGTON —
The tainted pet food scare, which has swelled into a serious crisis for animal lovers, now has spread to humans.
California officials have revealed that the contamination got into the food chain: About 45 state residents ate pork from hogs that consumed animal feed laced with melamine from China. Melamine is used to make plastics, but it also artificially boosts the protein level—and thus the price—of the glutens that go into food.
It was already fatal for some pets: 17 cats and dogs are confirmed dead, more have likely died without being reported, thousands have suffered kidney problems, and 57 brands of cat food and 83 of dog food have been recalled. On top of that, roughly 6,000 hogs will be destroyed because they ate tainted feed.
The effects of melamine on people are thought to be minimal, but no one really knows. Its consumption by humans is considered so improbable that no one has even studied it.

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