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 Post subject: Re: Stories about the Pathogen Police!
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 5:24 pm 
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Location: Michigan
I make a crab cheese thingy that is served in a hollowed out loaf of french bread. I took it to a new years ever party and my friends husband pulled the bread bowl out of the trash the next morning and ate it for breakfast......he lived to tell about it!

Laurie

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 Post subject: Re: Stories about the Pathogen Police!
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 9:05 pm 
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Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2008 1:03 am
Posts: 5147
Location: Portland, OR
So, ready for conspiracy theory of the month?

The FDA & California Dept. of Agriculture are in cahoots with the large tomato producers to drive the small producers under.

Tomatoes, expecially hothouse and varietal tomatoes, are not a veggie which gets any economy of scale. As a result, big agribusiness (mostly Dole) is forced to compete with mom&pop producers. Years ago, they came up with a strategy to crush the small producers; every 5 years, deliberately overfarm and flood the market, crashing tomato prices, then buy up small tomato farms when they go bankrupt. Recently, however, heirloom and organic producers have been resistant to this strategy.

So, someone at Dole last year persuaded someone at the FDA to turn a few reports of bad Mexican food (which, of course, is highly unusual) into a "bad tomato scare" which crashed the tomato market nationwide, including heirloom and organic tomatoes. This scare bankrupted a lot of the Watsonville hothouse-heirloom producers and undoubtedly others elsewhere.

When it was determined that the contamination had been purely restaurant-caused, the FDA had no explanation as to why they launched a nationwide scare based on 3 unsubstantiated reports.

Conspiracy theory ... or harsh reality? Only the Shadow knows ...

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 Post subject: Re: Stories about the Pathogen Police!
PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 9:14 am 
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Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 6:36 am
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Location: Springfield, IL
TheFuzzy wrote:
Paul,

You're correct that the risk has to be balanced. For example, around 40,000 Americans are killed in car accidents every year ...


Fuzzy,

My wife, the local child safety seat expert, asks me to remind you that those were crashes, not accidents.

Tim


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 Post subject: Re: Stories about the Pathogen Police!
PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 10:21 am 
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Posts: 1531
Location: Ottawa, ON
Fuzzy, I generally ascribe to Hanlon's Razor: Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity. Of course, to be fair, one of the variations (or origins) is Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity, but don't rule out malice.. I think it would be fair to say that examination of the tomato cock-up would reveal that it was, indeed, a massive cock-up. Whether or not it benefits some big producers is less clear as of yet, though I am willing to give you that it could benefit them in the long run, though buying some small producers won't save their butts if cost of entry in the market is low and production is not greatly enhanced by scale. Legislative barriers could help the big producers of course, which is why so often they lobby for "enhanced food safety" and increased regulation (only of certain sorts; never, for example, regulations regarding increased transparency).

But in this case, I think the question would be: Would this be better explained by FDA incompetence? A hallmark of a poor conspiracy theory is decrying an organization as thoroughly incompetent, yet attributing complex conspiracies to them.

However, I will note that they could be helped along in their incompetence. As a result of increased privatization of a lot of services, a lot of government has come to rely on outside consultants and "experts", and these almost invariably are part of the big business side, not the small business side. This can result in a kind of conspiracy, but one side is unaware of their role :)

Someday I would love to see a good, thorough, post-mortem of why that incident handling went so poorly and solid recommendations for remedy. I am always shocked at how poorly food is tracked, and how little hard data is available on various outbreaks, etc.


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 Post subject: Re: Stories about the Pathogen Police!
PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 1:00 pm 
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Location: PA
I had interpreted it to mean that Big Ag was counting on the incompetence of the FDA. No malice or consipiracy on the part of Government is required.


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 Post subject: Re: Stories about the Pathogen Police!
PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 11:48 pm 
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Paul,

Lacking data, I think it's more likely incompetence than corruption. However, lacking data, corruption can't be ruled out ... especially since the FDA, USDA and DoA all have a history of supporting Big Ag at the expense of Little Ag without even needing to be bribed.

I understand why Obama didn't take on Big Ag this term, but it is disappointing nonetheless.

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 Post subject: Re: Stories about the Pathogen Police!
PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 8:20 am 
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Posts: 536
Paul. What's a "cock-up". Never heard that one before.

eb


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 Post subject: Re: Stories about the Pathogen Police!
PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 8:36 am 
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Location: Ottawa, ON
Heh, British slang for completely bollixed up, i.e. a screw-up. I was brought up with entirely too much English/Irish (and a bit of scottish here and there) influence and tend to prefer their terms. They can be quite colourful.


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