Sunday, November 16, 2008

Liebig & his evil legacy. Melamine et al

The recent arrests in the environmental and sociological disaster known as China over Melamine doping of food stuffs are just the latest example of Justus von Liebig's evil legacy manifesting themselves in this century. Until I started reading Michael Pollan's "An Eater's Manifesto" (downloadable copy, here) I had no clue who Liebig was. Great, in the early 19th century he discovered nitrogen, and invented bouillon cubes in Germany, but he also pushed the theory that food is not at all food, it is just a sum of constituent parts. Never mind that baby formula made by Liebig's company caused infants to NOT THRIVE, he was a pioneer! He knew better than the rest of us. Oh yea, he also was the first one to synthesize Melamine.

Sure, Melamine has helped crops grow and fatten up farm animals, but too much of it, and the animals die of kidney failure. So do humans. Now, some industrial bio-chemists out there might take umbrage at my negative view of Melamine, but I doubt any of them read this blog. But put Melamine, who's nitrogen content passes for "protein" in a Dumas or Kjeldahl test, and mix it into a diluted food composition, and viola, you've successfully up'ed the "protein" to meet minimum standards while lacing the FOOD with a toxic fertilizer. Genius. Evil. But not "evil genius", just genuinely evil.

Now, I've been to China 13 times over 3 years, spending over 6 months of my life there. Cities and areas I've visited, in order of frequency and total time spent (from highest to lowest) include: Chengdu, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Wuxi, Beijing, Shenzen, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Xian, Dalian & Guiyang. I am not the least bit surprised that "motivated" Chinese "entrepreneurs" have laced Melamine into milk, chicken feed, pet food, baby food, medicine, just about anything that can be diluted. And now the the US has stopped all shipments of food stuffs from China - Finally! (thanks inept & lethargic FDA under Republicans!) Everyone in China wants to make a buck. Corruption is rampant, as it environmental disasters there. VERY LITTLE VALUE is placed on human life. 2 of the 3 corpses I have seen in my life, not inclusive of ritual funeral home burials, were on China streets and sidewalks, and no one cared that they were there.

Now... I just really really hope that the 2000 mg of Vitamin C I take every day are not laced with Melamine too, since China is the world's largest supplier of citric acid, accounting for 80% of the world's production. =(

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