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April 02, 2006
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Cancer in a Can

Fifteen years ago the Food and Drug Administration said, “Trust us.” Its scientists had found benzene, a known carcinogen, in some sodas and fruit drinks. The same levels in drinking water would have triggered mandatory action and public notification through newspaper, radio and TV ads. Yet the FDA neither sounded the alarm nor required the beverage industry to fix the problem.
Fifteen years later, the benzene is hitting the fan. Recently, Germany and the United Kingdom announced investigations and the FDA admits it is taking another look. But Washington’s drink of choice remains a heady cocktail of campaign contributions and secrecy, impairing its ability and will to regulate the safety of everything from mines to meat, from skyscrapers to soda.

Some states have circumvented Washington’s lax standards and weak enforcement. California’s Proposition 65, which requires companies to alert the public of potentially dangerous toxins in food, has sparked lawsuits over mercury in canned tuna and lead in Mexican candy.

The incestuous relationship between the FDA and the food industsry it's supposed to "regulate"? Well, I haven't seen anything like it since...well, since the last time I took a close look at the goverment and regulations on Big Pharma. (Also handled by the FDA and equally if not more incestuous.)

What the FDA needs is not just teeth to enforce its rulings. It needs the will to do what's right. That comes from decent funding. Enough funding so that this government agency doesn't have to go begging to the industries it oversees for money to do the studies and investigations that need to be done.

The Republican-dominated House has countered with a circumvention of its own. On March 8, as lawmakers pledged allegiance to industry, and FDA officials chanted another dreary chorus of “Trust us,” the House passed the National Uniformity for Food Act. If the Senate follows suit, the FDA would control almost all food labeling, and states would be barred from posting stricter warnings on carcinogens, genetic engineering, carbon monoxide-treated meat or growth hormones.

While we're at it, a certain amount of morality (the real stuff) would be nice in our politicians.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:44 PM


I long for the day when a true opposition party emerges with an anti-oligarchy platform!

Posted by: Elayne Riggs at April 2, 2006 06:21 PM

As do many of us.

Posted by: Anne at April 3, 2006 01:43 PM