Wednesday, January 29, 2003

pasteurized [NYT]
The farm bill that was passed last May directs the Agriculture Department to buy irradiated beef for the federal school lunch program. It will be up to local school districts to decide if they want it...

Because the word irradiation conjures up radioactivity and, more recently, the method by which anthrax spores have been killed, the industry has tried to keep it off food packaging. It is lobbying to use a word with which people are more comfortable: pasteurized.

A farm bill provision, added by Senator Tom Harkin, the Iowa Democrat, directs the Food and Drug Administration to look for a less fear-inducing word. Senator Harkin, a longtime proponent of food safety, is also responsible for the language in the bill that directs the Agriculture Department to buy irradiated meat.

The same month the farm bill passed, according to the Federal Election Commission in 2002, Senator Harkin received a $5,000 campaign contribution from the Titan Corporation, which until last August owned the SureBeam Corporation of Sioux City, Iowa, the country's largest food irradiator. Tricia Enright, Mr. Harkin's spokeswoman, said: "Tom Harkin's record as a leader of food safety is unparalleled. His commitment to this technology goes back decades."

Now, I know the bullshit is flying from loftier, and seemingly more dangerous emplacements, but take a moment to consider what is being said here. The so-called liberal death star casually acquiesces in the arrogation of title "food safety proponent" by a man who 1. is forcing the USDA to buy irradiated beef for school lunches (not that they aren't, in all probability, eager to comply); and 2. directing them to find a name for it that will fool the unwashed. Don't forget that the entire -- stated -- rationale for irradiation is that it's cheaper than testing for contamination; the unstated corollary, of course, is that it doesn't really matter if the meat is contaminated, because you just nuke it. No more messy recalls. No more complicated procedures to avoid spraying carcasses with their own shit. No more wasting the wage labor of illiterate immigrants in hosing off those carcasses. I guess some democrats really aren't that different from the monster they pretend to abhor: "In this century, the greatest environmental progress will come about, not through endless lawsuits or command and control regulations, but through technology and innovation."

[Canada has the same problem].


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