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The Chemical Feast II By Allar Rushing Houston “Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production; and the interest of the producer ought to be attended to, only so far as it may be necessary for promoting that of the consumer. . . .” Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, 1784. This is the second of two articles on The Chemical Feast, Ralph Nader’s study group report on the Food and Drug Administration, written by James S. Turner, project director. \(Grossman Publishers, 44 W. 56th St., New York, N.Y. “The food industry is the largest retail industry in America. . . . Its job is to make money.” It is backed by a lobbying power that once caused old Sam Rayburn \(D., anything like it. It floods the food market with a tide of chemicals even their number and names are bewildering largely untested or questionably tested. Our agency for the protection of consumers, the Food and Drug Administration, one might suppose, would find a use for about all the money and authority it could get to police such a monster. Not so, says James S. Turner, author of this angry report; in the past ten years the F.D.A. has not in any year used all its appropriation; and as for using all its authority it largely relies on the food industry to police itself. The “Creed of the F.D.A.,” as stated by Commissioner Paul Dunbar in 1947 and as it stands today is that “. .. most manufacturers recognize that consumer interest and producer interest are inseparable, and that practices adverse to consumer interest are likewise adverse to the interest of industry; . most manufacturers make sincere efforts to meet all legal requirements not only because they are the law of the land, but because it is the right thing to do.” RALPH NADER has developed, with the tools presently in hand, his own method of protest-into-reform with such success that numbers of our brightest and best-trained youth have flocked to aid him. Sixteen of his “raiders” who researched and interviewed the Food and Drug Administration for two summers, have now put more tools facts in the hands of. readers. As project director, Turner speaks Dellar Rushing is a free lance writer from Houston who formerly worked on several Texas papers. 16 The Texas Observer A Review in tones of outrage, but no fault is shown without a reasoned remedy. The author charges that such food standards as exist are often not realistically enforced. There are many dodges available to industry. One is the distinctive name dodge. Kraft’s Miracle Whip, a salad dressing, does not have to meet the standards for salad dressing because it has a distinctive name, Miracle Whip. Theoretically, there will one day be standards for whips, but meanwhile nothing applies. Ovaltine, a chocolate milk drink advertised as a cure-all, in the same way escapes regulations for chocolate milk drinks. “Thirst-quenchers” do not have to comply with juice regulations and Velveta does not have to comply with cheese regulations. All such means of dodging compliance, Turner holds, should be foreclosed. Problems, such as pest control, are not attacked head-on. Our society \(the author is careful to say that it is not only the F.D.A., but other agencies and entities that point of view of someone who has something to sell pesticides. But pest control could be reversed from the use of harmful chemicals to other means. Although only about 20% of pest control is now done by other than harmful chemicals, many such methods have proved their reliability, some as far back as 1890. For example: Texas cotton has been saved from destruction by insects without the use of chemicals through crop rotation, timed planting, and tillage designed to eliminate insect reproduction. The screw worm, which used to kill or maim millions of dollars worth of Florida livestock each year, was eliminated through breeding of sterile strains of the insect that prevented reproduction. The cottony-cushion scale, once the plague of California citrus fruit, “has been brought under control without the use of chemicals. Lures have been effectively used to combat various insects, and a new strain of alfalfa was developed to resist the spotted alfalfa aphid, which at one time nearly destroyed the entire alfalfa industry,” according to the report. SOME NUTRITIONISTS say, if you want to improve your diet begin with your bread. In the mid-twenties our bread started down a spongy, white road. White “enriched” flour has a longer shelf life, but many chemicals have been added Wed to it and it has been stripped of almost all vitamins and minerals. Dr. Jean Mayer, President Nixon’s French-born nutrition adviser, remarks that America’s soft, bleached dough-product would not even be called bread by Frenchmen. Dr. Saul Rubin of Hoffman-La Roch, calls the enrichment claim a fraud: 22 nutrients are removed and only parts of four are restored. For those who retain a simple faith in free enterprise, Nader’s interpretation of what the economic role of a government agency has been in an industry six times the size of General Motors, may be a surprise. He says: “In allowing the proliferation of these abuses and declining to develop sound, competitively up-lifting food standards, the Food and Drug Administration also did a serious disservice to any scrupulous food processors who might have viewed competition as a drive for quality and nutrition rather than the opposite situation which has prevailed. In sum, the Food and Drug Administration has been an official sponsor of processing and marketing practices that have transformed the defrauding of consumers into a competitive advantage a kind of reverse competition.” Thus, bad food has driven out good. Since The Chemical Feast was printed, the F.D.A. has banned cyclamates. Totally. Readers may be forgiven if they do a double-take and say, how’s that again? Information had been available for many months that cyclamates cause bladder cancer in rats \(bladder cancer in humans has risen sharply in America in the last decade, just when cyclamates were most months the F.D.A. has advised against the unrestricted use of cyclamates, equivocated, banned cyclamates from certain substances without revealing the most dangerous hazard, then backed away from even that, then finally banned cyclamates altogether effective by the end of September of this year \(The New York Times, Did more or differing information become available? Apparently not, but what did happen was that Ralph Nader was pushing. It may be that he should be given credit for this improvement in our food. During the time the F.D.A. had cyclamates on its generally recognized as safe list “nearly 75% of the families in America,” Turner estimates, consumed the chemical often without any way of knowing it. When the final and total ban was issued there was a loss to canners of some $30 million. One spokesman for growers said: “I don’t know where there is a hole big enough to put three million cases of illegal