Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Dangerous Chinese Goods and Food Flow in to Canada

The thing that amazed me most about the pet food poisoning was that we, Canada that is, import wheat gluten from China. First off, we're practically the bread basket of the world and grow scads of wheat, or at least have the ability to grow so much that we can swim in the stuff. Second, the Canadian government gave manufacturers the ability to strip wheat of its gluten and still call the flour whole wheat so that they could make money selling the gluten off to food processors. So why would we import the stuff from China?

That question burns in my mind because I thought it would be de facto for anyone with half a functional brain cell to look upon any food product coming out of China with deep suspicion. That includes herbs. They have an extremely polluted country. That air pollution is going to seep into the crops without a doubt. They don't have the environmental regulations we do. Witness the miners being blown up every verse end. They don't protect their workers even close to what Canada does (in writing anyway): see the aforementioned miners, the poorly paid factory workers, the restless rural workers, the lack of pesticide controls, the list goes on and on. Although a television news item showed a large room filled with telephone operators taking complaints about Chinese-grown food from Chinese citizens, that same news item quoted Chinese officials admitting that they cannot regulate, monitor, and inspect the farms all across the country. This admission is astonishing, given how tightly the communist government controls every aspect of life. That means everything from pesticide and herbicide use is not monitored to hygiene in the handling of the produce is not enforced (although I wonder how well that's monitored on this continent with the recent contamination of vegetable and fruit crops) to eradicating the practice of people living cheek by jowl with animals (the source of SARS) to contamination of the crops occuring from all sorts of things, some of which I'm truly astonished at. I mean, who uses melamine as a fertilizer?!

The Toronto Star published a short article on counterfeit goods coming from China, including what Stockwell Day, the Minister of Public Safety, had to say about it . I absolutely cannot believe that the best response a law and order government can come up with to the flow of dangerous counterfeit goods being let in by Customs (due to lack of legislative authority) and the RCMP (due to lack of manpower), is:
"...the government 'will review the committee's recommendations very carefully and report back to Parliament in a timely manner.'"
That's political speak for "go away, we're not interested." If the Harper government is not interested in protecting Canadian citizens from fake drugs, exploding batteries, dangerous electrical cords, it's no wonder that there was not an instant closing of the borders to all Chinese agricultural products after the pet food scandal. That should have been the first response. And the second should have been to tell China that the borders will not reopen until they can show the same environmental regulations and enforcement of same and demonstrate with solid evidence that all food grown there is safe. That would probably take decades, but it's not like Canada can't grow our own food. We grow so much, we export it.

Michael Moore said an interesting thing in an interview on PBS. He said that the reason why French citizens are treated well in France is that the government fears the people; it's not that the government does the right thing of its own volition. It's the opposite in the U.S.A. Canadians don't fear our government like apparently Americans do (according to Moore), but we don't seem to have the will to show our outrage boldly and loudly when even our very lives are in danger and they are not acting to protect us. I wonder what it will take to change that...

1 comment:

whatigotsofar said...

It's our ability to pretty much bend over and do nothing about it that makes us Canadian. It's shameful, but it's true.

In my opinion, it would take a coup d'etat, a very violent one, to change that about the people in this country. But, the people in this country would never attempt such a violent uprising.

Bah, don't listen to me today, I'm just tired and venting.