China bashing is very popular these days and the mainstream media know it. Yesterday, I read an article about California banning ginger imported from China because they use illegal pesticides. Today the toy industry gets its turn in the spotlight with an article on shoddy Chinese toys but at least this one focuses the blame on the toy companies’ failure to monitor quality. Read this thread on the Consumerist about toys containing lead. China is not the only source of junk like this and the focus on China is unfair.
The European Union has strict food laws, but it has seen a lot of food scandals. Has everyone forgotten about the dioxin chickens from Belgium only a few years ago? What about the dangers of beef? BSE anyone? Suddenly that disappeared from the news.
There’s never been a time when the food supply or the goods being sold were 100% safe. Never. It’s much more difficult to monitor and regulate the food supply today because of globalization. Our food, toys, clothes, computers, phones, furniture and nearly everything we buy comes not just from another country but from different countries (think of components of a phone made in different places). It is impossible for one regulatory agency to monitor all that.
With regard to food, why not try to eat locally grown produce? Everyone’s into being green these days. Transporting food thousands of miles to your grocery is hardly green. Of course, there is no guarantee that your local produce has not been sprayed with illegal pesticides, but it’s much easier to monitor locally grown food. But even that’s not 100% safe. E-coli bacteria was found in Northern California spinach just a few months ago.
For entrepreneurs who source their goods from different places, the burden of monitoring quality and labor conditions (you don’t want your products associated with slave labor) is very high. Many complain, “We can’t afford it.” But I say: can you afford NOT to?