06/24/2011 - The Food and Drug Administration has proposed sensible steps to cope with the dangers posed by a flood of imported food, drugs, cosmetics and medical devices. The trouble is, Congressional Republicans are determined to cut the agency’s budget when it ought to be getting an increase to deal with this worsening risk.
Nearly two-thirds of the fruits and vegetables and 80 percent of the seafood eaten in the United States now come from abroad. Half of the medical devices and 80 percent of the active ingredients in medications sold here are also made elsewhere, often in countries whose regulatory systems and manufacturing standards are weak.
American companies and American regulators screen only a tiny sample of the imports. In recent years, a contaminated blood-thinning drug was linked to 81 deaths in the United States, contaminated pet food killed or sickened thousands of cats and dogs and counterfeit test strips to monitor blood sugar levels posed a risk to diabetics. Those products were made in China, which often resists American efforts to investigate contamination or counterfeiting cases on its soil.
Read the full editorial Dangerous Imports on the New York Times Web site.