Acceptable Risks in the Marketplace

December 30th, 2003

To the Editor,

Risk assessments for the fate of consumers of beef infected with Mad Cow disease, illustrates the major problem in American consumer affairs. Other people are estimating consumer risks for us. Materials from infected cows are used in products unrelated to the food industry such as cosmetics and vaccines. We are supposed to be relieved that “… only about 150 Europeans have died …”, when predictions for the British outbreak yielded expectations for a higher body count.

The process by which foreign proteins survive digestion is not just an unsolved mystery making mad cow disease a lethal reality. Our ignorance on this subject is the basis for claims by biotech companies that GMO foods are harmless. Ignorance remains bliss for vendors and lack of proof of harmful effects is equated with “safety”. The absence of truth in labelling ensures consumer inability to trace any problems in the food chain back to their causation. We must refuse to buy products without indications that full disclosure is being made on the label. Perhaps an “f” enclosed in a capital “D” would make a good logo. We have a right to know when cows have been solely grain fed rather than transformed into carnivores to save money on feed. We need to know when our cosmetics contain beef byproducts or dangerous chemicals, often hidden as ‘inert’ ingredients on MSDS sheets.

Our money makes the world turn. Why are we giving it to those who place us at risk?

Barbara Rubin

Categories: NY Times

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