Beast of the Month - April 1998
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Public Health "Watchdogs"
John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) of The Sex Pistols, "Anarchy in the UK"
As far as important stories go, perhaps none have such a vast effect as those involving the food industry. Every person eats, and the stuff which people ingest effects their life as much as anything the Federal Reserve or the Pentagon does.
There are two agencies that are the primary regulators of food purity, the USDA and the FDA. This has been the case since 1906, when the Pure Food and Drug Act and the Beef Inspection Act were passed, primarily in reaction to the shocking expose by Upton Sinclair's The Jungle of insanitary conditions in meat-packing plants. Sinclair was a dedicated - and sincere - socialist, and the main purpose of his work was to turn the public in favor of socialism. (Later, in 1934, Upton Sinclair ran for governor of California, and, after winning the Democratic primary, he lost in the general election by 200,000 votes - an election mired by an organized campaign from money interests to shut Sinclair out.) Unfortunately, the legacy of his agenda has often been in direct conflict with what Sinclair desired, for rather than having the government watching out for the health of American citizens, the two agencies have regularly over the years looked out more for the monetary gains of korporations that desire to enrich themselves at the expense of public health.
According to the USDA, their mission is "assuring that the nation's meat and poultry supply is safe, wholesome, unadulterated, and properly labeled and packaged." But according to Ronnie Cummins of the Pure Food Campaign USA, "there is evidence that greater than 60% of poultry carcasses reaching market in the US are contaminated with salmonella. Feed, breeding facilities, slaughtering and processing plants, along with transportation vehicles, are all now contaminated. If you ask the FDA or the USDA or the poultry industry what is being done, the answer is, 'It is no longer economically feasible to completely eradicate salmonella from the poultry industry.'" Yes, that is correct: they state both it is their mission to ensure food purity, and that this same mission in not economically feasible. Cummins continues: "The fact is that corporate farming - getting as much product to market as quickly as possible through the use of hormones, antibiotics, designer feeds, and assembly line processing (etc.) - is not only producing these pathogens, it is spreading them."
Faced with such kind of hazards, one wise option would be to expose them, a la Sinclair. The problem with this option is, thanks to so-called "food slander" statutes that are found in 13 states, you can now be sued for choosing to exercise your freedom of speech on this issue. Oprah Winfrey found that out recently, when she had on her talk-show cattle rancher turned vegetarian food activist Howard Lyman of the Humane Society. Two wealthy Texas cattlemen sued Winfrey and Lyman because of a April 16, 1996 program, in which shocked viewers learned that common U.S. agricultural practices, namely animal cannibalism - the feeding of diseased and waste animal parts back to farm animals and pets on an industrial scale - are likely to lead to a domestic Mad Cow crisis in the USA. The information from Lyman so disturbed Winfrey, that she dangerously blurted out advocation of becoming a vegetarian. The suit forced Oprah to hold her show in Amarillo for the duration of the trial. Never mind that what was stated in the show is completely accurate. Winfrey has maintained, correctly, that America's food slander laws pose a threat to First Amendment rights of free speech and freedom of the press. Winfrey says, "I maintain my right to ask questions and to hold a public debate on issues that impact the general public and my audience." Although the most admired and popular celebrity (not to mention one of the richest) ended up being victorious in court, the issue of violating First Amendment rights have not been settled in this case. Thus, discussing issues such as pesticide and antibiotic residues, genetic engineering, animal feeding practices, and bacterial contamination, which recent polls in the U.S. have found 80% of all consumers expressing concern about, may be silenced and not debated out of fear of dealing with suits from the agribusiness.
The Food and Drug Administration has recently promoted an alternative - or some may say "final" - solution to the problem of contaminated meat: the irradiation of beef. On December 2, 1997, the FDA finally approved the nuking of beef, the goal of which is claimed to be making food safer. Of course, the irradiation process uses cobalt 60 and cesium 137, two by-products from nuclear weapon production. On the surface, the idea of treating food with nuclear wastes sounds like a horrible idea. It is: food irradiation was developed in the 1950's as part of the "Atoms for Peace" program by the Atomic Energy Commission (now the Nuclear Regulatory Commission). The goal of the program was to establish non-military uses for the radioactive waste products of nuclear weapons production. As Harvey and Marilyn Diamond note in Fit For Life II: Living Health: "The purpose of irradiating food is to rid the Department of Energy of its nuclear waste problem and to make a profit for the food industry at the same time." As usual, this is not about health, but economics. The Military-Industrial Komplex created all these deadly substances, and needed to figure a way to use them. "Hey, I got it!!!" some bright, cynical fellow shouted out. "Let's shove it down the public's throat for profit!!!"
As for the supposed safety of irradiated food, despite the claims and P.R. of the food manufacturers, irradiation can result in the creation of new chemicals, called unique radiolytic products, in foods. These include known carcinogens like benzene, formaldehyde and certain peroxides. Many studies also suggest that irradiation may be linked to cancer and birth defects, and that irradiation destroys nutrients essential to human health such as vitamin C, thiamin, vitamin E and polyunsaturated fats. Furthermore, though the allowable doses of radiation are enough to kill bacteria that signal spoilage through a foul odor, they aren't enough to kill the bacteria that causes botulism. So irradiation removes the warning signs we rely on to determine when foods are dangerous to eat.
Of the 441 toxicity studies completed by the date of the agency's official ruling, the FDA based its conclusion on only five. Since the ruling, two of these studies have been criticized by the New Jersey Medical School for using flawed methodologies, either for poor statistical analyses or because negative data was discarded. In a third, animals experienced weight loss and miscarriage that was believed to be caused by irradiation-induced vitamin E deficiency. And this was one the few pro-irradiation studies! An op-ed piece in the Chicago Sun-Times Dec. 5 states the facts well:
Irradiating meat exposes it to the equivalent of millions of medical X-rays--a level lethal to humans. While the irradiated food itself is not radioactive, it does cause chemical changes in food. Studies have shown that irradiation destroys many essential vitamins and nutrients and that it produces carcinogenic by-products.
It also should be noted that the long-term effects of eating irradiated foods are not known. Results from some previous animal and human tests are worrisome. Animals fed irradiated foods have developed testicular tumors, kidney disease, shorter life-spans and reproductive difficulties...
The millions of deaths and illnesses associated with bacterial contamination of meat must be addressed. But we shouldn't jump to embrace a technology promoted by the nuclear industry, which is looking to unload its nuclear weapons by-products."
Meanwhile, the FDA, echoing its sanctioned atrocity by okaying the quite noted nutrapoison Aspartame for Monsanto, also okayed the usage of Olestra last month, the zero-calorie fat alternative. The problem with Olestra is it passes straight through your digestive system, absorbing vitamins along the way and causing anal leakage. Meanwhile, the FDA wheel is slowly turning for Monsanto's next wave artificial sweetener, Neotame, which offers more of the same for the Nazi-linked chemical giant.
All this, however, is mere child's play for the potential havoc that could be wrought by the end of April. In December 1997, the USDA published the proposed National Organic Standards, which ironically enough was originally requested by the Organic Trade Association to create some sense of standardized meaning for the term "organic". The proposals of the USDA have instead included things that nobody has ever before even dreamed defined the meaning of the word. Among the possible items the USDA has listed for consideration:
Genetic Engineering: Using genetic engineering to produce foods.
Factory Farming: Using inhumane, intensive confinement factory farm-style production methods on farm animals
Toxic Sludge or Biolsolids: Spreading toxic sewage sludge and industrial wastes, often disguised as fertilizer, on farm lands and pastures
Animal Cannibalism: Feeding back diseased and waste animal body parts, organs, manure, and blood to farm animals and pets
Food Irradiation: Using radioactive nuclear wastes to "kill bacteria" and prolong the shelf life of food products.
These are just the most absurd of USDA Organic Standards proposals. The others include genetically engineering bacteria toxins for pest control usage, unspecified use of antibiotics and animal drugs in livestock sold as "organic", up to twenty percent non-organic feed (including genetically engineered grains) for "organic" labeled livestock, dairy animals to be raised organically for only three months before selling their milk as "organic", and the usage of up to 130 EPA-listed "Potentially Toxic" and 1300 "Unknown Toxicity" "inert" substances for use on organic crops. What makes the proposed standards worse is that they restrict other organizations from making their own stricter standards and independent labeling of the food.
Of course, not all of these modest proposals will pass. Or will they? The deadline for sending any comments to the USDA on the standards is April 30, 1998. Curiously, the same day also begins year 33 (the highest degree of Freemasonry) in the Anton LaVey inspired Satanic Calender. The following day is the 222nd anniversary of the May Day founding of Adam Weishaupt's Bavarian Illuminati. Is the USDA trying to tell us something?
Is an attempt being made to completely subvert the right of people to know what they are eating? Are the so-called "food regulators" doing little more than rubber stamping the wet dreams of the agribusiness lobby? Suddenly the Peckergate problems of El Presidente seem quite minor as compared to this unsurprisingly overlooked story.
Maybe this is all just overreacting paranoia. But based on the recent history of the USDA and FDA, paranoia is quite understandable. High ranking FDA administrators are regularly offered cushy jobs with the pharmaceutical industry after their work at the agency, encouraging them to be lapdogs to those they are supposed to regulate. The USDA, meanwhile, has two conflicting agendas: one, to regulate the quality of the foods we eat, and two, to promote the consumption of the foods agribusiness produces. It is no surprise, then, with such conflict of interest, that the two agencies regularly seem to do such a poor job.
Perhaps it is understandable, but it is still inexcusable. It is a disgrace how the USDA and the FDA serve and collaborate with those they are supposed to police. And if the shout of people who care about their health and well-being isn't heard soon, the collaboration will soon become complete.
In any case, we salute you, the FDA and the USDA, as Beast of the Month. Congratulations, and keep up the great work, dudes!!!
"The Swirl & The Swastika" (chapter from Psychic Dictatorship In the USA), Alex Constantine
Fit For Life II: Living Health, Harvey & Marilyn Diamond
A Diet For a New America, John Robbins
May All Be Fed, John Robbins
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