by Jeff Allen
As if poisonous toothpaste, killer dog food, and the urban legend of sweet and sour cat meat weren't enough to send our way, China, it seems, has been tainting the shrimp and fish (specifically catfish) they dump on our shores by the ton each year – so much so that it's been banned according to the New York Times. And while that's bad news for the cheapos, it's music to our local shrimper's ears. With the "local food" movement starting to catch fire, disruption of unfair Chinese trade practices and a negative stigma attached to cheap Asian food imports could go a long ways towards revitalizing our local seafood industry.
No surprise that the Southern states were the first to act, since most of your aquaculture and shrimping takes place in the warmer half of the country:
The state of Alabama announced its ban after testing found 14 of 20 samples contained fluoroquinolones, a type of antibiotic banned by the F.D.A. Mississippi officials found that 18 of 26 samples of Chinese catfish were contaminated with fluoroquinolones.
"We are saying all Chinese seafood that comes in here has to be tested prior to sale," said Bob Odom, Louisiana's agriculture and forestry commissioner. "The simple reason for that is we found a lot of it that is contaminated." – New York Times
For once, we lead the way in a noble cause. Maybe now we can actually crank up the maritime center as the local fish market that it's supposed to be.
Evidently, the Chinese are taking this stuff seriously:
At home, China has announced crackdowns on fake medicines and unsafe food. Earlier this year, the head of the food and drug watchdog agency was sentenced to death for corruption. – Yahoo News
Kinda tells you what kind of money is involved, eh? Of course, with the Bush Administration on the case, there's bound to be some way to forge a profit out of all this:
The U.S. ambassador also met with the head of China's quarantine administration to press for a reopening of China's markets to American beef imports, suspended since 2003 due to an outbreak of mad cow disease. – Yahoo News