Thursday, May 31, 2007

On the FDA

The Food and Drug Administration is weak, toothless. It's a tired old institution and it's scared of the conservative administration. It cares about the firms, these days, more than it cares about the American citizens.

The origins of the modern food safety laws in the United States are in a 1938 law. This law, in turn, was pushed through by the horrible events the year before: Over one hundred people died, many of them children, after taking a form of sulfa (then the newest wonder drug) which contained a lethal ingredient: diethylene glycol. Nobody had tested its suitability, and that is why we got a law requiring testing of new medications.

In 2006 over one hundred people died in Panama, for the very same reason: diethylene glycol. It was used as a substitute for glycerine, a more expensive but safe ingredient, by a Chinese manufacturer. The story recounting the sad chain of deceit leading in those deaths also mentioned that a wholesaler in the United States caught one shipment of diethylene glycol just in time as recently as 1995!

Given this background, you might be interested in learning that the FDA doesn't REQUIRE American firms to test the glycerine they buy from abroad; it just recommends such testing.

We need to buy the FDA new dentures, with lots of sharp canines.
For the links go to my article in the American Prospect.