Much has been written about the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria ,but very little has been done about the chemical warfare conducted against American citizens. The effects of this warfare are ,perhaps, not as dramatic as the use of Sarin, or mustard gas,or a host of other chemical agents ,but the long term effects are just as dire.The insididious nature of the threat and the fact that most Americans are far too complacent about the food that they eat makes the danger far greater than any isolated poison gas attack could ever be.
The recent Chinese purchase of Smithfield Foods,one of the largest pork producers in the nation, raised concerns about food safety. The concern was understandable given a well deserved Chinese notoriety for tainted food,shoddy goods and lax environmental and safety standards. The great irony is that the Chinese purchase of Smithfield Foods might actually produce meat that is safer.The Chinese,for example, ban the use of Paylean, a food additive commonly used in the US to produce leaner pork . Paylean improves feed efficiency by thirteen percent and encourages an average ten percent weight gain. But Paylean is not an unqualified blessing since the additive is highly toxic. Workers handling Paylean are advised not to come into direct contact with the additive and are required to wear respirators. Food experts estimate that animals require three weeks to purge the chemical fom their bodies. But, of course, this does not happen in practice so consumers are the unwitting consumers of a substance known to be carcinogenic and which also has been linked to cardiovascular disease.No long term studies have been conducted largely because agribusiness really does not want to know what the studies would reveal and because the USDA is essentially the Welcome Wagon for Big AG.
GMO's represent yet another threat to the American consumer. BT corn ,for, example, has been linked to blood, liver, and kidney abnormalities and has also been shown to cause damage to the small intestine. Workers exposed to GMO cotton have incurred an abnormal incidence of allergic reactions. Sheep grazing on GMO cotton fields died ,and animals have refused GMO feed. As a consequence, GMO seeds are banned in Europe and in Peru. The US imposes no such ban because there is money to be made through the sale of GMO seed and more importantly because Monsanto and several other chemical companies own the regulatory apparatus in this country.
If that were not enough, Americans also unwittingly ingest a not inconsiderable levels of BGH, bovine growth hormone by way of dairy products and beef. The clever Moe,s restaurant ad. that depicts a child with a luxuriant beard is not far from the mark. Girls begin menarche much earlier than before and the change cannot be ascribed to "improved" nutrition. The truth is that we are being poisoned, the bitterest irony because a hormone used to increase milk production is not needed at all given the ongoing problem with milk surpluses.
The rampant abuse of antibiotics also represents a serious public health issue. Antibiotics are used to eliminate the many problems caused by raising animals in filthy conditions and as a way to fatten cattle cheaply. The true cost of this practice is paid by Americans who are finding that an increasing number of microbes are immune to our antibiotic pharmacopia. So chicken litter,AKA chicken s..t, is an acceptable cattle fodder because feed lot owners can always add that extra measure of antibiotics to the feed.
We should not tolerate any of this. It is past time to demand that our regulatory agencies actually protect the citizenry and past time to demand higher standards from Big AG.Sharp business practices have no place in modern capitalism and forestall the efforts of honest farmers and meat packers
. At one time Smithfield hams were prized for quality because the hogs were fed peanuts and the meat was produced with some care. It would seem today that Smithfield Foods and any number of big producers are trading on nothing but a name and an advertising campaign.
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