China raises most of its fish in water contaminated with raw sewage, and China compensates by using dangerous drugs and chemicals, many of which are banned in the United States. The Chinese try to control the spread of bacterial infections, disease and parasites by pumping the food with antibiotics and the waters with pesticides.
Chicken pens are often suspended over ponds where seafood is farmed, recycling chicken feces as fish food.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture wants to allow China to sell cooked (but not raw) chickens to the U.S. even though public health officials have warned for several years about a potential avian influenza pandemic. Doesn't the United States have enough chickens?
China exports more than 80 percent of the world's vitamin C, which is put in thousands of processed foods from fruit drinks to applesauce to granola, and is used as a key food preservative. There is no claim of contamination yet, but many worry about dependence on China, which has driven all U.S. competitors out of business.
Last year, China sold $675 million in pharmaceutical ingredients and products to the United States. It is estimated that 20 percent of finished generic and over-the-counter drugs, and 40 percent of the active ingredients for pills come from China or India.
The United States long ago banned lead in paint because it can cause learning disabilities, kidney failure, anemia and irreversible brain damage in children. But lead is widely used in Chinese manufacturing, and 80 percent of toys sold in the United States come from China.
Every one of the 24 kinds of toys recalled for safety reasons in the U.S. so far this year was manufactured in China. Because of lead paint, the U.S. has recalled hundreds of thousands of children's necklaces, bracelets, earrings, charms, rings, toy drums, and 1.5 million Thomas & Friends wooden trains. Other recalled products include a ghoulish fake eyeball toy filled with kerosene, Easy-Bake Ovens that could trap children's fingers and burn them, and 450,000 tires that lacked an essential safety feature called a gum strip to keep the belts of a tire from separating.
The FDA inspects 1 percent of our imports from China. It's not realistic to believe that doubling or tripling the inspection rate would make any significant difference in the safety of foods or toys.
Nor would FDA on-site inspection of producers in China be practical. When FDA investigators visited China in May, they found factories closed, machinery dismantled, and records destroyed.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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