Capitalism, Communism and Cat Food

So we have recently been reading about all that contaminated cat food (also dog food and feed for some other animals) that had to be recalled because it was full of Chinese wheat gluten. The NY Times reports (5/3/07) that thousands of animals have become sick or died (according to the FDA 4000 dogs and cats have died already). How did it happened?

We all know that capitalists guiding interest is to make the biggest possible profit. They hate regulations (bad for business) and when they are regulated will try to get around the regulations anyway they can.

The Bush administration, very capitalist friendly, has really helped the American capitalists by pushing deregulation, supporting “voluntary compliance” (i.e., no compliance), and failing to use the federal regulatory agencies to really regulate. Thus OSHA doesn’t inspect, the Labor Department doesn’t properly function, we don’t how much mad cow disease is in the country because of the Agriculture Department, unsafe drugs are on the market because of the FDA, etc., across. Bush is the best president from business, the worse for people.

Now the Chinese are finding out how capitalism works as well. The Times reported earlier that the same contaminant that is killing American pets is routinely put into people food in China as well as animal feed.

The chemical is melamine. Its has the wonderful property (besides making you sick and maybe killing you) of showing up on food testing not as melamine but as protein — it is also very cheap. So, if the food product you are making to sell doesn’t have enough protein so you could not past government inspection and sell it, just dump some melamine into it, definitely don’t list this in your ingredients, and Presto Change-O, your product now passes with flying colors as good nutritious food (just don’t eat any of it yourself, or, if its pet food, let you own pets near it.)

Even better, just use the melamine in your product because it is so cheap so you don’t have put so much expensive protein in your product in the first place.

This is par for the course for capitalism. The Times tells us that, “A similar practice once took place in the United States and in China involving a related compound called urea, but that compound is now more widely tested for and is banned from certain feeds in the United States.”

The Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Company, operating under the “its good to get rich slogan” is, the Times says, one of the two companies that sent the tainted wheat gluten to the US.

They got the stuff out of China by labeling it as nonfood so they were not inspected. That means they knew what was going on. They then sold it to the American pet food companies as a food additive. Goodbye Fluffy!

The theory is that the two firms that sold the food additive didn’t even make it (although they are on record as having done so). They just bought it from many little companies around China (the Chinese government said 25 other companies were in on it), which indicates that there is wide spread food contamination going on in the country.

“This is simple greed,” said Marion Nestle, an NYU professor of public health, food and nutrition. Its really not all that simple. It is rather just how capitalism works. It tries in every way to maximize its profits. That is why deregulation is a bad idea.

Capitalism is an inherently self destructive system, its leads to environmental pollution, wars to gain control of markets and resources, and exploitation of workers and consumers. The more government regulates it the less dangerous it is, but the danger will always be there until the day we can abolish the system altogether.

Thomas Riggins is currently the associate editor of Political Affairs online. Read other articles by Thomas.

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  1. Lyle said on May 24th, 2007 at 1:37am #

    The solution is not simply “more government regulation.” I think that will come, but only by having people collectively undermine capitalism will this force the government into a position where they have to stop companies from doing this, or they will have the “problem” of revolution on their hands. How do we do this? Many different ways; direct action by strikes, slowdowns; you know the game. The problem is, by lobbying for the government’s regulation of business, you’re not going to get very far because first of all, the government will always act in its own interest, and since we live in a capitalist society, they will always revert to their main function: protecting private property and thus, the flow of capital to their bureaucracy. So it’s not so much up to them as it is us, I guess.