Import safety group a serious joke


In response to a tidal wave of tainted imported food and consumer goods hitting America this summer, President George W. Bush created the Interagency Working Group on Import Safety July 18 to, as the New York Times reported, “identify actions that can be taken within ‘existing resources’ to improve import safety.”
Questions. If you take two seconds to ponder that mandate, the first question your brain might deliver is “Hmm, if the tainted imports escaped detection under ‘existing resources,’ how can new actions taken within those same resources improve import safety?”
They can’t, but this search for things already known will not keep the Working Group – all cabinet-level political appointees – from delivering what The Boss wants.
Indeed, it already has. On Sept. 10, the Working Group’s chairman, Secretary of Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt, issued a preliminary report (a final report is due in November) that conceded the nation cannot protect its citizens from dangerous imports under the current inspection regime.
Reasons. The reasons, however, Leavitt related, are not related to money, regulations, enforcement or inspectors.
No, the biggest reason is simple.
“Due to the vast volume of imported products, it is impossible to ensure safety simply by increasing government inspections,” Leavitt conceded.
But wait, Leavitt went on, we can minimize the growing dangers if our import safety “agencies expand on existing public-private relationships


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Alan Guebert was raised on an 800-acre, 100-cow southern Illinois dairy farm. After graduation from the University of Illinois in 1980, he served as a writer and editor at Professional Farmers of America, Successful Farming magazine and Farm Journal magazine. His syndicated agricultural column, The Farm and Food File, began in June, 1993, and now appears weekly in more than 70 publications throughout the U.S. and Canada. He and spouse Catherine, a social worker, have two adult children.