Thursday, May 10, 2007

In America they call it Obstruction of Justice

What do they call it in China?

From this story in the LA Times.

There was a REASON Sen. Dick Durbin wrote Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong,
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China, to get visas for the FDA quickly. Maybe he suspected something like this would happen. On April 18th Sen Durbin wrote:

The Agency has also made multiple requests to the Chinese Government to allow U.S. inspectors to look at the facilities that are suspected to have produced the contaminated product. On April 4, 2007, the FDA sent its first letter to the Chinese Government asking for visas to allow its inspectors visit China. The request was not granted, and on April 17, 2007, the FDA sent an additional letter emphasizing that it wished to be allowed to send its inspectors to China.

See how important it was? Not only could this be considered obstruction of justice, it's bad form for international relations.

And telling some poor FDA field op to keep saying how cooperative the Chinese were is just bull. Tell me the date that you got the visa Mr. Batts. Was it before April 4th? If not, well your comment is inaccurate.(From the transcript)

Next question is from Brian Hartman of ABC News.

REPORTER: Hi. You say you're getting very good cooperation in China, but you get to the factories and there's nothing there. You can't interview the people who have been detained. And you couldn't get visas into the country. I just wonder if you could be more clear on what they are cooperating on. And the follow-up, if you can tell me if anyone is testing melamine on live animals right now to better understand how it moves through other systems of animals? Thank you.

MR. BATTS: Could you repeat the first part of your question having to do with –

REPORTER: Well, sure. You said a couple times here that you're very happy with the cooperation in China, and I guess this is for Mr. Batts, and, but it sounded to me like what you're saying to us about what's happening in China is you're getting to a factory that's been dismantled and there's nothing to look at. You can't do any tests on anything. You can't talk to the people who have been detained. And you had trouble even getting visas into the country. So I'm just wondering, what is it that you're not telling us about how cooperative China is being?

MR. BATTS: First of all, concerning the visas I'm not sure where the information came about China not being cooperative concerning the visas. We found them very cooperative and in fact when the passports of our travel representatives went to the embassy for visas, they were taken care of within the same day, one of them within an hour of receipt, which is an unprecedented turnaround for the Chinese embassy of fixing visas. So let me dispel that point about no cooperation of the visas. [Spocko asks, "What day? WHAT DAY?]

Concerning what's going on in China, the agency that we are working with that Dr. Acheson mentioned earlier, AQSIQ, has been cooperative. They do have limited authority over the firms in this instance, and so that has hampered some of this. It has hampered what they were able to do before we even arrived on site. And they carried out an extensive investigation before our team arrived in China.

But we are satisfied in that they have shared with us documents that they have obtained and anything they found during the investigation. The fact that facilities may have been closed or shut down by the companies and there wasn't much to see is just a fact and not necessarily to be blamed on lack of cooperation by the Chinese authorities.


The press can read. They can read a calendar. You got busted Batts.


Jim said...

Spocko, I hope after all this you've come around to my way of thinking about this. I don't want the government regulating petfood, drugs, and or human food. I'm quite happy relegating the FDA to an advisory role/labeling enforcement agency where they would issue alerts on their concerns about product X and ensuring that when product X is labeled with ingredients those ingredients are actually in the product, as well as the country of origin of the product (and ingredients country if they are not the same as the product). It should be clear by now that bureaucracy is miserable at regulating anything more complicated than food stamps (and they even manage to screw that up).

12:36 PM  
BearCountry said...

I disagree with Jim. The various government agencies can do a good job of overseeing and regulating the industries assigned to them. They can't do a good job when party hacks are put in charge and the regulated industries are allowed to get too cozy with the regulators. Also, if the regulators are too few to provide adequate coverage the system breaks down.

The alternative to government regulation is self-regulation by the industry itself. We all know how effective that is. Once we remove a neutral regulator, all control is pushed aside. It is hard enough to have an outside regulator; it would be useless to have an internal 'regulator.'

8:46 AM  
Jim said...

Bearcountry, what you are then admitting is that you are incapable or reading a label and deciding for yourself wether or not a product if something you want to use or not. Now if were were talking about dilithium chamber liners, I'd agree that you may or may not have the expertise to make that decision, but we're talking about food. I can't believe that you honestly can't determine what foods you want to eat (and from where). The only regulator you should need is you!

8:49 PM  
BearCountry said...

No, I and my wife are not incapable of reading a label. We try to eat organic whenever possible. The problem is not reading labels, the problem is knowing what everything is on the label and knowing that what is labeled is correctly labeled.

Your approach is that the food supplier and the customer are on equal footing with the food company honestly telling me what is in the food, and me knowing what it all means. If an unregulated company lies to me about what is in the food by not telling me or misrepresenting, then I am unable to make an informed choice.

We already know what unscrupulous companies will do when unregulated (Enron, for instance), and what the Chinese did to the pet food, at least, and maybe more.

Regulation can, and did work, but won't if the top administration of the department is too cozy with the regulated. I would feel more comfortable if I knew that there was a more knowledgeable oversight on the food supply with real power of enforcement. As it is, terrorists don't need dirty bombs, they just need access to our food supply.

7:31 AM  

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