STRENGHTEN THE FDA

Wow. If George W thought that Scooter Libby got "harsh" punishment for being the Bushites' fall guy, he ought to consider how top Chinese officials treat their scapegoats.

Wow. If George W thought that Scooter Libby got “harsh” punishment for being the Bushites’ fall guy, he ought to consider how top Chinese officials treat their scapegoats.

Mr. Zheng Xiaoyu, the head of China’s food and drug administration, took the fall for the recent scandal of China’s exports of shoddy and contaminated products. And, unlike Libby, he didn’t just get an 18-month sentence, – they executed him! Took him out and shot him in the back of the head. Now that’s taking a fall.

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There’s much tongue clucking in our country by pundits and politicos about how the Chinese need to clean up their regulatory act. But, wait a minute – what about our own FDA? While the number of food imports into the U.S. has increased by 1000 percent in the past 14 years, FDA’s port inspections have dropped. Some 80 percent of food imports are not even subject to inspection – they’re automatically waved in. Of the remaining imports, less than one percent are inspected. Indeed, Bush budget cuts are endangering our food supply – FDA gets only $10.6 million for food safety and is now proposing to eliminate seven of its 13 food safety labs.

Why such lax oversight of such an important product as our food? Because big food manufacturers and major importers like Wal-Mart don’t like regulations and inspections – so the Bushites go out of their way to protect the industry… rather than us. Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach, FDA’s honcho, explains that the Bush regime prefers to use voluntary guidelines rather than rules and enforcement, because “Regulations are more cumbersome.”

Yes, von Eschenbach – that’s the idea! It should not be easy for profiteering corporations to play loose with the safety of our food supply. For information and action to strengthen the FDA, visit Center for Science In the Public Interest: www.cspinet.org.

“Killing the Regulator,” For Your Information, July 16, 2007
“China Quick to Execute Drug Official,” The New York Times, July 11, 2007
“A Chinese Reformer Betrays His Cause, and Pays,” The New York Times, July 13, 2007
“Who’s Watching What We Eat?” The New York Times, May 16, 2007

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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