Saturday, March 17, 2012

United States Exports Safe Foods and Imports Unsafe Foods

The article presented in this post focuses our attention on the unsatisfactory state of affairs in the food production business.  Please accompany me across the jump to learn more about the non-inspected and possible unsafe foods that are imported into the United States.

Many of you are already aware of the problems impairing the safety of the American food system of which insufficient money for food safety programs leads the way.  As a refresher on the subject of funding for food safety programs, please go here.

To offset the potential danger posed by foods imported from less regulated sources, the programs that ensure the safeness of foods sold to Americans must be fully funded. The importance of fully funding food safety programs cannot be overemphasized.

In a Foreign Affairs article about China's food production, the reported lack of food safety in China's food production should serve as a wake-up call for Americans and the political leadership of the United States. Two passages from the article --  an article that should serve as a "canary in the coal mine" -- are provided below (underscore emphases added).

Passage one:

... Chinese bureaucrats are not solely to blame; many of the country's food safety problems can be traced back to the farm. Farmers rely on chemicals to increase yields and ward off insects. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, China has one of the highest rates of chemical fertilizer use per hectare, and Chinese farmers use many highly toxic pesticides, including some that have been banned in the United States. In 2005, the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that only six percent of agricultural products in China could be considered safe. Many farmers use antibiotics to control disease in livestock, often at dangerously high levels. 
Passage two:

It would be tempting for those not living in China to think that the country's food scandals do not affect them. Yet China is one of the world's largest producers of agricultural products, and it exports roughly $5 billion worth of those products to the United States every year. Although supermarket labels may not indicate it, a growing proportion of the U.S. diet is now made in China. When Americans drink apple juice or eat tilapia, cod, or canned peaches, mushrooms, spinach, garlic, there is a good chance they are eating a Chinese product. And that food probably has not been tested: Only 1.5 percent of Chinese food imports, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, are inspected.
Below is a passage from the Washington Post article about Republicans members of Congress cutting funds for food safety programs (underscored emphasis added):

Arguing that the U.S. food supply is 99 percent safe, House Republicans cut millions of dollars Thursday [circa 16 June, 2011] from the Food and Drug Administration’s budget, denying the agency money to implement landmark food safety laws approved by the last Congress.
Saying the cuts were needed to lower the national deficit, the House also reduced funding to the Agriculture Department’s food safety inspection service, which oversees meat, poultry and some egg products. And lawmakers chopped $832 million from an emergency feeding program for poor mothers, infants and children. Hunger groups said that change would deny emergency nutrition to about 325,000 mothers and children.

To read more of the Foreign Affairs article please follow the link in the citation presented below.

Thompson, Thomas N. "Glowing Pork, Exploding Watermelons: Why China Can't Keep Its Food Safe."  Foreign Affairs 14 March, 2012: online edition.

Related article:

Layton, Lyndsey. "House Republicans vote to cut funds to implement food safety law."  The Washigton Post 16 June, 2011: online edition.

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