Monday, October 6, 2014


Is food safety a real concern with many governments across the world? Hardly so if the money spent on ensuring food safety is used as a yardstick about the seriousness of the intend of the political class, bureaucrats and business captains. The USFDA is notorious in "silent" collusion with the industry, often supported by politicians, in not bringing to books many food business people who violate food laws with impunity or influencing decision taking process to the disadvantage of the citizen. Look at India where a toothless agency managed by a "dyed in wool" bureaucrat makes right noises in public but rarely does anything substantial in wiping out the scourge called "adulteration".

It is rather odd that terrorism is a fashionable word and governments are using potential threat from terrorists to waste enormous money in counter terrorism activity. According to one estimate the US alone spends about 1.2 trillion dollars annually to "equip" itself to face terrorism in the country. No one can belittle the threat posed by fanatic terrorists who have no logic or rationale in sponsoring violence against innocent citizens on some imaginary grouse. Also no one should have quarrel with the government for spending such huge sums in national security, if it is real. But food safety also should receive same priority as terrorism when it comes to funding.

While on the subject of food safety one of the biggest tragedies of modern times is the blanket approval surreptitiously or other wise to the meat food industry to use antibiotics for purposes other than treatment of disease stricken animals. The rampant use of antibiotics by American meat industry seems to have created a monstrous situation that is putting in peril lives of millions of people. The antibiotic resistance developed by most pathogens is due to continuous use of these chemicals for promoting growth and thus increase the industry profitability. Imagine what happens to a person who is seriously ill due to infection, if the antibiotics prescribed by his doctor does not work because the causative agent, a pathogen, has necessary metabolic whereabouts to make the antibiotic appear innocuous! How can this life be saved if antibiotics do not work and what will happen to millions of people who are vulnerable to such a situation?

In an interesting expose, it has been reported that America meat industry used almost 30 million pounds of antibiotics for fattening their meat animals while only 7.7 million pounds were used on human beings affected by infectious illness! No wonder almost 2 million people are infected with antibiotic resistant pathogens every year in the US exposing them to serious life threatening situation. The American meat industry is habituated to house millions of animals in insanitary, overcrowded and brutally inhuman pens or poultry farms and they have found this convenient so that minimum investment is needed for "maintaining" such hellish farms and liberal use antibiotics can reduce mortality significantly! 

In yet another expose, it was reported that American meat industry liberally use Beta-agonists, a growth promoting drug to achieve fast growth of the animals which can naturally reduce the time of sacrificing the animal for meat. Why this country is allowing the use of this drug is a big mystery because this has been banned by many countries around the world including the EU, Japan and China. The ill effects of Beta-agonists are well documented and still this crazy country supports the industry against its own citizens!. What is disturbing is the acquiescence of scientists, universities and pharma companies in this heinous crime without affecting their conscience. 

While government has neither the time nor the resources to discipline this industry, it finds ample time to gag whistle blowers who were earlier bringing to light the malpractices of this industry through legal measures. Animal abuse, unsafe and insanitary conditions, environmental hazards and unscientific practices will continue unabated as the industry is sure that the government will never tighten the screw by denying funds for modernization of safety vigilance infrastructure. The pittance of a budget which is hardly $ one billion per year for the FDA will ensure nothing changes in the US in the foreseeable future.

No comments: