fresh voices from the front lines of change







I thought my outrage meter was about pegged today after learning that coal companies are essentially bribing schools to lie to children about fossil fuels (e.g. “Our world is deficient in carbon dioxide, and a doubling of atmospheric CO2 is very beneficial.” —WHAT?!?). That is, until I read this:

Bad news for Americans who eat food

Budget cuts proposed by House Republicans to the Food and Drug Administration would undermine the agency’s ability to carry out a historic food-safety law passed by Congress just five months ago, food safety advocates say. […]

Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee approved the cuts yesterday, which are severe enough to prevent the FDA from implementing the new [food safety] law. Erik Olson, director of food and consumer product safety programs at the Pew Health Group, part of a coalition of public health advocates and food makers, said this week, “These cuts could seriously harm our ability to protect the food supply.”

It shouldn’t surprise me that Republicans are once again trying to use the budgetary process to destroy laws that they can’t reverse democratically, nevertheless, I find myself amazed, again. Let’s ignore, for a moment, the fact that these cuts don’t even make sense in the context of pure deficit reduction arithmetic (as the article accurately points out). We are talking about preventing food poisoning here. After years of stories about Americans getting sick from eating dangerous foods like lettuce and peanut butter, how in the hell can a political party fight common-sense measures to improve food safety??

(Fun Fact: Foodborne diseases cause approximately 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations ($$$), and 5,000 deaths in the United States each year.)

It is also worth noting that we aren’t just talking about food safety compromised by giant factory farms hell-bent on cutting every regulatory and moral corner to squeeze additional profits from their fetid poo-swamps/outbreak incubators; we are also talking about food safety in terms of national security. It has been long understood that our water and food systems (the basic necessities for life, mind you) are extremely vulnerable to terrorist attacks. The fact that we haven’t had a terrorist attack on our food or water supplies yet suggests that either al-Qaeda hasn’t had the resources to launch such an attack, or they know as little about food safety as congressional Republicans.

So why, given all of this, are Republicans trying to cut the budget of the FDA, which would prevent it from being able to improve its protection of the American food supply? Why are they actually trying to reduce the FDA’s already insufficient funding below toxic lettuce levels? Are they simply not smart enough to understand how government, budgets and regulations work? Or do they just love food poisoning?

I don’t really know the answer to that question–maybe it’s a little from Column A and a little from Column B. Or maybe it has something to do with Column $$$:

Meet GOP Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), the chairman of the committee trying to cripple the FDA.

Rep. Kingston has pocketed $377,558 over his career from the “Crop Production & Basic Processing” industry (read: agribusiness, the people who have a vested interest in keeping consumer protectors out of their poo-swamps), making it his 2nd largest financial backer.

And what industry is Rep. Kingston’s #1 financial backer? The health care industry. Hmmm…. So food poisoning is responsible for 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,000 deaths in the U.S. each year, and Rep. Kingston, the man with the purse power, is getting tractorloads of cash from the industry that produces the tainted food and the industry that rakes in the money mopping up the results? Now that’s just poetic.

Vomit, Baby, Vomit! That’s E. coli conservatism for you.

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