Well, while the initial legislation was dropped due to the threatened veto of President Clinton, the process of destroying the power that the FDA once held for the protection of the American consumer has been steadily chipped away. The first operation of the FDA that the conservatives targeted for devastation was the section which controlled the meat industry and the safety of its production lines. Since they found that neither the President nor the American people would stand for their plan, the conservatives, instead, simply decreased the budget for the protection.
To say the least, we are currently witnessing the result of this industry inspired shift in responsibility away from the reliability of the government to the self-interested myopia of the corporations. Once again, their shameful push for the lie of a "smaller government" hides their true intent for the removal of all control over corporations whose only goal is profit, never safety or consumer health.
The latest example of this trend towards safety's oblivion was Hudson Meat's distribution of e-coli tainted meat throughout the Mid-West. Millions of pounds of this contaminated product was recalled after many consumers fell ill from eating it at home. How could this have happened in America, the focal point of what was once the safest foods in the world?
Very easily. Hudson's Foods ran three shifts, seven days a week. The two daytime shifts produced the hamburger and the third night shift was responsible for cleaning the equipment and plant. The two day shifts produced hundreds of thousands of pounds of meat each day.
With the many workers that Hudson Foods employed, how many FDA inspectors would you guess were assigned to Hudson's and how many per shift? Would you suppose six, with two inspectors per shift? Nope! How about three with at least one inspector per shift? Again, nope! How about one inspector, working six hours per day and only during the day, Monday through Friday. That's right, due to the far right's massive budget cuts, there was only the one person to inspect a huge plant, all of its equipment, all of its products and then fill out the myriad forms substantiating his work.
Now do you understand why this not only could happen but will repeat itself over and over in the future? Want to know a few other scary facts? How about the fact that the FDA has absolutely no power to force a recall under any circumstances? How about the fact that recall powers were requested by the FDA after this fiasco but, at the behest of their corporate masters, Congress refused to consider such legislation this year. How about the fact that Congressional Republican leaders have called for the complete dismantling of the FDA and handing all responsibility for inspections over to the companies, themselves? How about the right's rush for allowing the FDA to ignore their historical processes of testing, called fast tracking, is just short hand for allowing dangerous drugs to be tested on the sick, far cheaper than actual clinical trials where side effects and other dangers can be reported and collated by professionals?
Finally, NAFTA has resulted in a 100% increase in food imports. It has also resulted in a 50% reduction in inspections at the borders which, as a consequence, has caused 3 serious outbreaks of disease from food borne bacteria in 1997 alone.
The point is, of course, that between NAFTA and the right's unconscionable attacks on the safety of this nation's food supplies, you can expect many more disease outbreaks in the very near future. The biggest problem with the right's unblinking subservience to their corporate master's idea of "smaller government" is the resulting destruction of all that is truly good about America. It forces those of us with far less loyalty to business and far more allegiance to our fellow humans to face the same dangers that Republicans happily produce in the name of campaign contributions and corporate profits. If it was only Republicans and corporate CEOs that had to face these dangers, of course, I would applaud as their stupidity would quickly remove them from the common genetic pool.
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