I found this cartoon in an image search and chuckled at it when I read it. Then I went to the page where the cartoon was paired with an article. The article was… interesting, and maybe a bit over the top. It is an emotional rant attacking the FDA and suggesting to terrorists how they could legally kill the American population. Although the article was a bit more than ridiculous, the author made a few points about the American food supply system that made me shiver.
“If you really want to poison the U.S. food supply, just use aspartame. It causes neurological disorders and yet remains perfectly legal to dump into foods such as diet sodas and children’s medicines. You don’t even have to dump it into the food supply in secret, either: You can do it right out in full view of the public. Heck, you can even list this chemical right on the ingredients label!” In his article, Adams makes the point that the FDA allows ingredients to be put in food that science has shown are harmful to human health and cause hundreds of thousands of deaths. He then says that terrorists could do the same and get better results than their acts of violence. This is a stretch. Yes, these ingredients are not good for human health, but I do not think that aspartame or MSG were strictly and directly responsible for as many deaths as Adams claims.
It is worrisome that an organization that is supposed to protect us from harmful food, the FDA, allows ingredients in our food that are known to be harmful. They even allow ingredients that many people know to be harmful, like MSG, to be renamed in the ingredient section of packaging so that people cannot pick it out quite as easily(Adams says that MSG is often listed as “yeast extract”). Who knows how many other ingredients have multiple names, some sounding friendlier than others. Can we ever know what we are actually eating?
Another issue that Adams mentions is that of genetically modified food.
Adams didn’t say much, other than labeling genetically engineered food as a “biological weapon,” but I thought this cartoon summed it up pretty well. If chemicals that kill insects are put into the crops that eventually become our food, the effects they have on us cannot be positive. Why do we need all these chemicals in our food? People lived before the chemicals, so they are obviously not necessary for survival. It seems like the effects they have are all negative. We have become accustomed to the intensified flavor that they give our food, so cutting them out would be near impossible. Agencies like the FDA could consider add more strict regulations regarding harmful ingredients and the levels of them allowed in our food. The power of big business (the food industry is relevant here) in politics will have an effect on this however.
So the question becomes: which stakeholders should the businesses and FDA put as their top priority?