Back in high school, I used to have to ask the teacher for permission to use the restroom. In English class, I also had to be sure to begin my request with "may I", rather than "can I"...otherwise, I'd be running the risk of the "I don't know, can you?" reply. The New York Times reports tonight that, much like a student in class, FDA required permission from Peanut Corporation of America before they were allowed to publish their expanded recall last week.
That probably doesn't come as a surprise to many of us here, but I couldn't let this article slip by without comment -
Even though federal health officials have begun a criminal investigation into whether the Peanut Corporation of America deliberately sold contaminated products, the government still needed the company’s permission last week before announcing a huge recall of its products.
Crossposted from La Vida Locavore, more below the fold...
Now this takes us on to the corporate personhood debate. Regardless of where anyone stands on this issue, which goes back to a misinterpreted Supreme Court ruling from the 19th Century; I don't think anybody can present an honest case that things on this front don't need to change, and change now. Not only are corporations currently afforded rights as living beings that they don't deserve, but they're also given rights by law way above and beyond that which any actual citizen enjoys.
I don't recall the last time that an individual who killed at least 8 people and sickened thousands was asked for permission by the authorities to publicize his crimes, let alone having the right of said authorities being required to ask him permission before they would be allowed to take action that could prevent further harm from being done to the population at risk. Which in this case, would of course be any American who shops for food at mainstream grocery stores...
Beyond that, we obviously need serious reform in our food safety system now so that FDA actually has the power to immediately take action itself when the public health is clearly in danger.
Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) has been great on this issue, as has Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL). A quote from Rep. DeLauro in that New York Times article -
"They can’t even get a press release out on this stuff without industry approval. It’s just unbelievable," said Ms. DeLauro, who promised to offer legislation on Wednesday that would split the agency’s food oversight into a separate entity with mandatory recall authority and other powers.
Earlier today, President Obama promised a "complete review of F.D.A. operations." Let's hope we see that very soon.