Greed, Lax Regulation, Conservatism — A Deadly Recipe?

Baby and Dog Sharing Food

An editorial in The Nation says the drive to protect corporate profits in the guise of conservatism is killing our cats and dogs — and people. The sweeping editorial, written by Itchmo reader and Seattle’s KIRO Radio host David Goldstein, blames not the lack of resources, but the lack of will power to stop the flood of dangerous goods for cats, dogs — and people — pouring over the border.

Goldstein also points out FDA’s backtracking over the statement that there is “no acceptable level” of melamine or cyanuric acid human food. After learning that rejected pet food was fed to chickens and pigs, the FDA changed their tune — saying some amounts are just fine, while asking their own staff to take protective measures when inspecting possibly tainted goods. We live blogged the FDA’s statements.

Food safety has been a problem for a long time and continues to become a larger part of our lives, says Goldstein. In fact, he says 10 times the number of people have died from food-borne illnesses compared to 9/11 in the days since.

Goldstein connects the closure of many FDA labs, weak regulatory powers and the fight against terrorism in his editorial.

From The Nation:

[Had] this “food grade” wheat gluten made its way to the US bakery and breakfast cereal manufacturers who use 530 million pounds annually, it could have created the largest and deadliest mass food poisoning in American history. Indeed, given the often silent, progressive nature of renal failure, and our regulatory and public health agencies’ woeful inability to prevent, uncover, track or remedy such incidents, we cannot be certain that it already hasn’t.


On stepping down from office in 2004, former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson warned, “I, for the life of me, cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply, because it is so easy to do.”

How do we explain yet another known terrorist threat gone unheeded?

The explanation is simple. For decades our government has been dominated by a conservative ideology that claims to despise big government, abhor regulation and adhere to an unswerving faith in the infinite wisdom of the market. Rick Perlstein dubs this philosophy “E. Coli Conservatism,” and in practice it is not only flawed but corrupt: a calculated conservative project intended to gut our regulatory systems in the interest of sheer corporate greed. We eat adulterated food not because we cannot adequately regulate the industry but because to do so would eat into the profits of the corporations our regulators serve.

The full article will be published at the end of the month.

David Goldstein writes regularly at

19 Responses to “Greed, Lax Regulation, Conservatism — A Deadly Recipe?”

  1. Carol says:

    Great editorial-go to The Nation to read it all…I emailed it to Lou Dobbs, NBC Nightly News and myself. Glad to see this staying in the news. Thanks Goldy!!

  2. Lynne says:

    The New York Times has just written about the FDA and inspections (or lack thereof). It isn’t just China either.

    The neocons (Grover Norquist and company) stated that their goal was to shrink government down to a size where it could be drowned in a bathtub. I’d say they’ve reached their goal.

  3. straybaby says:

    Lynne, I say we go ahead and drown them. Time for some fresh lawmakers who will work for the people.

  4. pat says:

    Applause to Mr. Goldstein for his incisive look at food safety in the US. As to terrorists, I don’t see why they would bother to attack the food supply when they can rely on agribusiness and our own government to do their dirty work for them. Why waste resources when the work of poisoning the population is already taking place?

  5. winniedog says:

    You see this in all aspects of our lives these days. Big Business is running everything and we are paying the price. Our food and our pet’s food is nothing but unregulated, adulterated garbage. Who knows how many deceptive practices are going on that we are unaware of. It’s all about the already rich getting even richer. It’s happening with our food and our jobs. There is no quality control anymore. They can do what they want and get away with it. Now even the chocolate industry wants to substitute vegetable oil for cocoa butter and still be able to call it “chocolate” and it looks like the FDA is going to allow it. It wouldn’t even be chocolate anymore. Hershey just closed a bunch of plants and plans to ship a bunch more American jobs to India, China, & Mexico. Lower quality product made in another country- Nice! But the bigwigs will all get bigger bonuses this year and that’s all that really matters, right?

  6. Katie says:

    Thanks Mr Goldstein for a great article.

    I agree with you all, time to drown them and start over! I do think more Americans are starting to question their food. Last night our local station ran several news items; a co-op owner talking about contents in cans and COOL, the cardboard used in Chinese snacks, and the weatherman saying he’s still cooking for his dog since he hasn’t heard an “all-clear”.

    I talked to several people yesterday in the grocery store who are all cooking for their dogs, they aren’t buying any third world country products and writing letters to the editor in the newspaper. Yeh!


  7. mittens says:

    for the millionth time there are NO LAWS IN PLACE giving the fda the power to do anything. there never has been. it does not have the inspectors or the labs or the congress approved mandate. even democratic icon kennedy was hotly opposed to regulating the drug industry- giving the fda more power to do so -until the thalidimide scandal broke then he was publically forced to approve of what weak regulations the congress was batting around at the time( the batting mostly done by a guy named kefauver- an anti big business pit bull if ever there was one who championed bills regulating drug testing more heavily and was rewarded by those in power by stripping his name from the bill he fought the hardest for.)

    this does not mean they shouldn’t have done more then they did or should have made the grotesque statments that stank of cover up .this does not mean a republican president didn’t put a business shill in power of the fda.most ‘ conservatives’ like myself ( and i am also not a christian, am a legal immigrant and come from a multiracial, multicultural working class family so i’m no born again white guy with money and a religious agenda) do not consider bush a conservative. conservatisms tenets are aimed at government’s interference in individual lives and rights, not not protecting those individuals from predatory large businesses, quite the opposite. it’s the libertarians who believe in no government regulation in business at all.

    ‘the nation’ is a shameless political shill. it misses the greater point. it’s very chic now a days to blame everything on one’s political ‘ enemies’. this does not mean it’s so. the structure of the fda must be addressed. addressing ‘ conservatism’ instead of the laws and structure of the fda assures nothing will get done particularly if a new administration you think of as diametricly opposed to the current one is elected( and don’t forget the congress makes and passses the laws and regulations of the fda- not the president) this does not absolve the current adminstration and ‘ most ethical congress ever ( democratic) from blame- they are afterall the ones in power. but the dellusion that it would be any different under what most with tin foil hats for outer wear would consider acceptable near socialistic democratic alternatives owuld do beast to review the fda under the past 10 administrations and look at what big businesses are greasing their poles, so to speak.

    the fda is not mandated to do anything. why p[eole persists in obscuring this fact confounds me. you’re not helping your pets at all. youre burying the truth and the resolution to the vast probelm under political sand bagging.

  8. E. Hamilton says:

    The FDA has always had the power to TELL the TRUTH, they did not have to lie and cover up !
    The FDA ALWAYS had the power to tell the media that the 16 “official ” deaths were lab animals that menu killed and that THOUSANDS were dead or dying, that unrecalled food was killing and sickening and the FDA did NOT have to LIE.
    But they did.
    So they are useless, fine, taking money from the drug companies, fine, for all I know they are also getting goodies from the pet food companies, well, the pet food and the drug companies can pay their damned salaries too and retirement and legal bills because the FDA needs to go!

    The FDA even went after one of their OWN for trying to save pets .
    The last FDA head TOOK MONEY to lie!
    There is NO defense for what they have done.

    I am making a list of every time the FDA LIED and it is a long one.
    Rot in hell FDA.
    If we want safer food for us and our pets it is NOT the FDA who is gonna do it.

    The pet food companies killed my pets BUT IT WAS THE FDA WHO TWISTED THE KNIFE with the lies!

  9. thomas says:

    It is the FDA &USDA that have failed to name all the ingredients found in the containimated products and name all the companys who received . They have chosen to cover up and protect big busuness.

    I can safely say ditto to everyones remarks except Mittens.

  10. Jenny Bark says:

    E. Hamilton
    I’m with you all the way. I still think we should march but it seems most don’t agree so I’ll just keep doing everything that you all keep thinking of. I will be voting Dem. though because I have seen nothing from the Rep. and so far they do not have enough votes to get past a veto. I hope we can get rid of the FDA forever. Our gov. needs to be for all of us ( our babies, old, sick, working people) or they need to be voted out. People need to vote instead of just talking.

  11. E. Hamilton says:

    Yet another disgusting news reports that states the death toll as dozens and pats the liars on the back for the fine job.
    There is a comment section and I suggest you comment and demand a correction.

  12. Jenny Bark says:

    E. Hamilton
    I commented.
    I have been e-mailing off and on all day. Good idea.

  13. E. Hamilton says:

    Thank you Jenny!
    Every day, every single day I check the news for the lies and I will NOT allow the lies to go unchallenged.

    That is the PROOF that the FDA is part of the cover up- that the FDA has not held a press conference to get the TRUTH of the death toll reported as widely as the lie is the PROOF that the FDA is just as culpable as the poisoners.


    And do not forget to file FCC complaints against every TV station that has refused to report the news of the ongoing crisis or reported the death toll as “16″!

  14. Leslie k says:

    E- Seeing more reports on food safety & Chinese import problems every day. The complaints have had an effect! Keep up the good work.

  15. furmom says:

    I think the point is, even if the fda has no power to do anything, if you aksed most ordinary citizens, they would say SOMEBODY should have the power, and the fda sounds like it would be a likely candidate. If not them, then who? Ordinary people can’t sit around waiting to see when their pets or family members begin to consistently get ill from something and then do their own investigations as to what the cause was. Who is in charge of regulating the quality, testing, or restricting goods from a country? If it is absolutely no one, then who would be a good best candidate for the job?

  16. E. Hamilton says:

    furmom says:
    July 13th, 2007 at 11:23 pm

    YOU, yes YOU, have the power.
    Can you be forced at gunpoint to shop at Walmart, believe the lies in the spate of new TV ads, take your pets to a vet that is nothing but a shill for Hills poison?
    Do you vote? Then get on top of the elected officials and put the spurs to em!
    You are a pet parent, think about where the money you spend on your pets goes to and either make that money work for you or take it elsewhere!
    Do you have a phone? Use it everyday- you pay for it-use it! Every can or bag of pet food has an 800 number-call and keep calling!
    Do you talk to people? Tell the truth to them.
    Tell your church groups if you attend church, tell your grocer, tell your mailman.
    I KNOW you have a computer and internet access- use it!
    Market forces will take care of it? Then MOVE that market! Make it do what YOU need it to do!

    If the jerks who poisoned our pets think that _I_ am going to wait on “someone” to do it for me then they are in for a big surprise.
    I did not want this very expensive education in how the pet food companies and the FDA and the media are so actively evil.
    But I have it, I paid for it, oh boy did I pay for it! and I am going to USE that education. Being a semi sweet old lady I share what I learn.

    I may be an old lady but I just shouldered a 50 LB. bag of bird seed from the car to the shed so I aint a frail old lady. I USED to spend thousands a year on pet food and vet bills and pet supplies, now my pets are dead and I am going to spend that same amount, maybe more , on printer ink to spread the news and other things. The pet industry has lost thousands a year by killing my pets and I take a customer a day away from them EVERYDAY , I do not sleep until I do that- on a good day I cost the pet industry 10 or 20 customers.

    The FDA is useless and corrupt, elections are coming up, and we all have work to do.
    There is no food safety, there never was and since the jerks have this country riddled with GM grain that even China won’t buy it is best to fight one battle at a time.
    The FDA CANNOT be trusted, every drug they approve is a result of a corrupt organization, does that make you happy?
    Better to start fresh.
    Osama Bin Laden would be a better choice to put in charge of safety, he is smarter than your entire government and smart is not a word anyone can use about the FDA!

  17. Jenny Bark says:

    The FDA needs to be fired. All of them starting from the top down. We need a whole new board with the power to check more than 1 to 2 %, enforce food and drug safety, recall power, fines, unannounced spot checks and tests and if need be the power to close a place down. We need a board that works for the American people and most importantly that notifies the American tax people right away so no other pets, children or adults die or get sick. We pay taxes for them to work for all of the American people. You cannot fix a board that has a mind set for protecting only big business and the people only a little bit after some die. Their warning letters are really just a very sad ugly joke. I have no respect for the FDA and I believe it’s only a matter of time before more babies and people die or get very sick. How about a board that believes by the people and for the people that would include American big business and American people.
    I think tomorrow I am going to e-mail all the tv station and ask them why they don’t do a poll on what people think of the safety of their food and drugs and the FDA.

  18. louisa says:

    If people knew how little testing and how many shortcuts the US government allows, they would never take a new drug until it had been on the pharmacy shelves and in other people’s systems for a few years. I worked at a company that did data processing on a medication that made the study participants barf like hell. The patents withdrew from the study. The FDA approved the drug before an article about it was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association which is procedure. I can’t say anything more other than that debacle occurred during GHWB’s administration. (No it wasn’t Paxil)
    Doesn’t anyone remember that Bin Laden said the food supply would be next?

  19. Elaine says:

    David Goldstein’s article in The Nation was right on, except for the part blaming this on the political party in power. This problem transcends political parties.

    We need to focus on right and wrong, not on Republicrats! They WANT us to be arguing politics to take our focus off what BOTH parties are doing to us—-pandering to BIG BUSINESS interests!

    I am glad to see the bloggers on Itchmo and Petconnection working together for a common goal. We come from so many parts of this great nation, so many different backgrounds and occupations, and we are learning from each other and are all contributing from our own areas of knowledge.

    We ARE making a difference!

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