This week, EatingLiberally.org wants to know whether I think organics are honest. Do organic food producers really follow the USDA’s Organic Standards? I think most do, but the question comes out of an incident in California where a fertilizer seller was passing off an unapproved chemical fertilizer as organic. Apparently, state agriculture officials knew about this but didn’t bother to tell anyone or do much about it. Not a good situation. Here’s my response to all this.
Currently browsing posts about: Eating Liberally
I have an op-ed (about the FDA’s handling of melamine in U.S. infant formula) and a Food Matters column (answering questions about salt) in the San Francisco Chronicle this week, and a response to a question from Eating Liberally about Governor Paterson’s proposed tax on soft drinks. Enjoy!
Kat’s question for me is “Shouldn’t the FDA keep melamine out of our domestic food chain?” Well yes. It should. And thanks to Sokie Lee for forwarding the Mao poster from her “say no to made in China” campaign. Still, I don’t think we should be too xenophobic about China. After all, its food safety system is about where ours was before we got food and drug laws in 1906. It’s just a lot bigger and more complicated so it has even more work to do to keep its – and our – food safe. And here’s Sokie’s poster in miniature:
This week’s Eating Liberally Q and A is about my talk at a conference run by Jeffrey Sachs at Columbia a couple of weeks ago. I had no idea that it was possible to cause so much consternation in such brief remarks (we were allotted four minutes), but it elicited a quite lengthy and angry rebuttal from Professor Sachs. He took strong issue with my view that Capitalist economics might not help African agricultural development because farmers cannot afford to buy patented seeds, fertilizer, and machinery. The lack of agricultural development seems to me to be a social rather than a technical problem and, therefore, one that requires social rather than technical solutions. This seems pretty obvious to me, but not everyone agrees, apparently.
My interview with Eating Liberally this week concerns the wake of the pet food recalls that I wrote about in Pet Food Politics: The Chihuahua in the Coal Mine. Some Chihuahua! Now we have the Chinese infant formula scandal and don’t we wish we had Country-of-Origin Labeling? It’s been a busy few days on the scandal. The toll so far is 2 babies dead and 1253 sick, with 340 still in the hospital, and 53 of these are in serious condition. The Chinese have arrested two brothers who run a milk collection center on suspicion that they added melamine to make the protein content appear higher. An investigation of dairy producers found 22 to be producing milk contaminated with melamine. The largest of these dairies is owned in part by Fonterra, a New Zealand company. Fonterra says it tried to get the formula recalled earlier but the Chinese refused.
September 17: Today, it’s 3 babies dead, 1,300 in the hospital, and 6,244 sick. They were adding melamine to cover for diluting the milk with water. Hmm. Just like we used to do in the early years of the 20th century before passing pure food laws. Regulation, anyone?
When I was in New Zealand last year at a ministerial agriculture meeting, I heard a lot about how ranchers were giving up on sheep and starting large dairy farms to supply milk to China. This meant the end of pristine streams and sheep dotting the landscape.
Eating Liberally’s kat wants to know why all of a sudden the FDA is getting some funding. Tomatoes? Not likely, as I explain.