Monday, March 30, 2009

POTATOES OF DEATH


Suitable for silly poster.

Today's pic is worth a good scoff. "Ahhhhh!" -- bioterror potatoes of death have been distributed throughout America, according to sources in the US government. The FDA is rapidly mobilizing. Throw all your potatoes out, warns the TV! Well, not really.

But it's the kind of stupidity people come up with when they're thinking about terrorism from the redoubt of the reality free: the belief that anything could be a target at anytime, that society is fragile and helpless -- that it's easy for terrorists to do anything they desire.

The original story which used the graphic is here. (It's only worth a look for the art.)

"[New rules] under consideration on Capitol Hill would expand the bioterrorism reporting requirements to cover farms and restaurants, which are currently exempt," it reads.

If implemented, such rules will immediately degenerate into simple harassment and the collection of fees and fines from various small places in every town, USA. There is no reason, for example, to require Tops -- a popular sandwich shop in Pasadena -- to be involved in terrorism reporting and tracking. It will never be a target of bioterrorism any more than the Creekside Brewery in San Luis Obispo, a small company harassed into installing bioterror-proof fermenting tanks.

All the scrambling to craft and enforce new rules has been brought about by Stewart Parnell's Peanut Corp. of America. In this way, the man was not only a menace to public health but also a catalyst for a very American over-reaction in the wrong direction. What was wrong in the case of Peanut Corp. of America, for example, has some similarity to the problem faced with AIG's worming its way into everything in the economy. Peanut Corp. was a supplier of peanut products which became too big and intertwined with the food chain. It wormed its way into furnishing peanut products everywhere, conducting its business with no oversight or due diligence.

But instead of giving the FDA more resources and the power to immediately seize and close or dismember such businesses, so as to create a social environment which strongly discourages the food industry from acting in such a manner, onerous measures are concocted and forced on the exceedingly small players at the grass roots level. Notice, being diligent with the food supply so as not to harass the small business in everytown is still not the same thing as simply letting the market take care of itself.

The general history of food tampering is dominated by deliberate poisonings. And there is no reason to believe record-keeping at the atomic level stops the determined mentally ill sociopath from trying to murder his wife or some kids who make fun of him in the cafeteria line. Historically, this is fact and was discussed a week or two ago here.

"Certainly an historical absence of evidence does not preclude suppositions that terrorists may intentionally contaminate the food supply ... What it does tell us is 'that undertaking a major attack on the food chain is much more difficult than at first it may be believed,'" reads one quote taken from one analysis discussed in that posting.

However, rationale thinking about such matters is not the American way. Instead of thinking about how to trace and immediately eliminate the businessmen who would poison customers and clients while lunging for profit, everyone must be made to practice fine note-taking security, the chefs in the fried-food kitchen made to pass security checks.

DD has routinely seen ridiculous articles on food security as a result of 9/11.

"It is simple ... for one person to intentionally contaminate the food supply and have a major impact," wrote one science-writer at Newsweek a couple years ago, repeating the script, custom-made to cloud thinking.

"The list of chemicals that could poison food is almost endless," she continued. What is more true and illuminating would have been to that many chemicals are toxic and that poisoners have employed many but that the level of intentional malicious food poisoning is trivial when compared to the yearly incidence of death from naturally-occurring food and waterborne illnesses.



Protecting the cheese from bioterror

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