HIGHTOWER: Beware Of Food-Safety "Reforms"

As Native-American activist and author Vine Deloria once put it: "Sure you can trust the government. Ask an Indian."Well look out, because the government has just approved two "reform" measures they claim will improve the safety of your food supply. "Trust us," they say.Don't, I say.Reform Number One was the Department of Agriculture's widely ballyhooed revision of its meat-inspection program, claiming to solve America's scandalous problem of meat contamination, which currently kills 2500 of us every year and sickens millions more.But before you swallow the government's assurances, get a whiff of this: The goal is not to eliminate E.Coli and other deadly bacteria from our burgers, but only to keep the contamination from growing worse. For example, one in five chickens that go to market today are contaminated with salmonella. The "reform" regulation says to industry: "That's OK, just don't make it two in five." Even worse, instead of government inspectors checking for E.Coli, the companies will be allowed to inspect themselves! It literally puts the foxes in charge of the hen house.Reform Number Two is called the "Food Quality Protection Act," but it really protects food polluters. Prior to this so-called "reform," processors could not add any hazardous pesticides to our families' food. None. Zero tolerance. It was the toughest health standard on the books. Now it's gone. Under this act processors can add pesticides to everything from baby food to TV dinners, literally making it legal for companies to add levels of toxins that cause cancer. The new law also prohibits any state from adopting any tougher regulations to protect the public.This is Jim Hightower remembering the words of Kin Hubbard, a turn-of-the century humorist who noted: "If government was as afraid of consumers as it is of business, this would be some democracy."

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