I made a promise to publish the guts, no pun intended, from the many interviews we had on the Summer of Murphy Tour pertaining to the pet food industry even though the actual footage we shot I'm saving for the documentary.
While on Tour I read this article about the recall of Chicken Jerky treats from China. In it, a gentleman named Tony Corbo with the Food and Water Watch (FWW) Advocacy group was quoted and his comments inspired me to set up a meeting to learn more.
It was a conversation that would incite such a visceral rage inside me, the embers of which still glow savagely and inextinguishable.
Back in the late 1990s China was becoming quite the economic powerhouse with an unprecedented and unsustainable double digit GDP growth rate and farming and agriculture was one of their chief industries. Among other things, they had a bunch of chickens that they wanted to export and here in the United States, well, we love us some poultry.
The problem was we didn't want them. Not for human consumption anyway because their processing plants couldn't meet up with USDA standards despite the numerous inspections of their facilities and China's numerous attempts to grease our politicians to enact favorable legislation.
'Damn, what we do with all this chicken?', they asked themselves. And rays of light beamed down on them.. . which ended up being glaring holes in our regulatory guidelines that the Chinese government exposed and exploited.
Let's Make Dog Food
Unfit for human consumption. Fuck it, unfit for any consumption, there was a business opportunity there and the Chinese knew it.
And now, all of us have found ourselves as unwilling and inextricable bit players in this theater of tragedy and absurdity that has costed thousands and thousands of lives, directed and sanctioned by, well, you know who.
DC... The District of Calamity
You see, the FDA, not the USDA, sets the standards for pet food products though I've since learned from other sources that 'set' is a rather loose term. It's more accurate to say that corporate industry tells them what they're going to do and the FDA decides whether or not they're going to argue with them through a consortium called AAFCO. Disclosure - I contacted the FDA for an interview but never got a call back.
So now the millions of pounds of pet food imported into the U.S. from China has grown 85 times over this decade, a reality that wasn't really under the radar of the FWW until dogs started dying from chicken jerky treats.
Through their analysis of various documents that mistakenly weren't redacted, they discovered that the jerky treats were being irradiated at doses up to more than ten times permissible levels in humans.
Nuke it. Nuke it Good.
Heck, let's keep making this toxic food product jam packed with bacteria, fungus, and a whole host of other pathogens but expose it to Cesium, Cobalt, or whatever radioisotope of choice to kill off all the bad stuff is their line of reasoning I suppose.
This is where I come in. We know radiation is carcinogenic. Shit, it killed its own inventor, Madame Marie Curie.
So how have we let this happen? First of all, the FDA only has a mere fraction of inspectors that the USDA has and from what Mr. Corbo related to me, inspection times of manufacturing plants is approximately once every ten years or so.
Furthermore, in human food, poultry producers based here in the United States have started building processing facilities in China because of the cost versus benefit equation. That means they raise the chicken domestically then ship them overseas to process, package, and then ship back to the U.S. for human consumption.
I think I threw up a little in my mouth when we reached this part of the interview since I had consumed a fast food chain chicken meal shortly before. I won't say which since that's not really my fight.
Them is Us
What are we really fighting here? It's question and quandary that's kept me unsettled, unsure, and up late for months now following the Tour.
But it's like the life I learned on the road. When you get too far ahead of yourself from Step One, Step Two, maybe Step Three that's when you start fucking up.
Without exception, every single thought leader, oncologist, veterinarian I met during the tens of thousands of miles I've traveled now for this cause, feels that there is a seriously strong correlation between cancer and diet and nutrition. But there haven't been any long term, comprehensive, longitudinal studies conducted and that's where I need your help....
Coming up: Part II. What You Can Do?