Doing Nothing Won’t Do Anything
By Consumers Union on Monday, May 21st, 2007
The above quote by New York Times Columnist Paul Krugman cuts right to the heart of the failure of our food safety regulatory system to offer even a reasonable degree of public protection. Krugman cites E. coli in spinach, Salmonella in peanut butter and melamine in pet food and suggests several factors such as globalization and corporate culture, but he ultimately blames the impact of Milton Friedman’s free market anti-regulatory ideology on the current administration as the culprit. Krugman notes, “O.K. I’m not saying that Mr. Friedman directly caused tainted spinach and poisonous peanut butter. But he did help to make our food less safe, by legitimizing what historian Rick Perlstein calls “E-coli conservatives”: ideologues who won’t accept even the most compelling case for government regulation.”
I don’t know if Krugman is right about the ultimate reason for the administration startling inaction, but he is four square on-target regarding the need to act. The fact that a growing segment of the food industry is joining the call suggests Krugman’s aim was true.
Neither public health nor industry reputation can stomach much more of what we have been fed this past year.