As if Katrina Wasn’t Bad Enough Now the FDA is Targeting the Gulf Coast

October 28, 2009 at 9:30 am

Originally posted at Third Coast Cuisine.

Just as Third Coast communities are beginning to recover from a series of storms that decimated towns from Corpus Christie to Tampa the FDA is now imposing policy that will potentially insure the demise of the Gulf Coast oyster industry. The industry has been a part of the region longer than there has been a United States of America. In an ethically questionable and scientifically unfounded decision the FDA is banning the sale of raw Gulf oysters effective 2011. The new law does not apply to oysters harvested on the East or West Coasts.

As nutritionists, food scientists and culinary writers have repeatedly pointed out the FDA (and their bungling partners the USDA and Department of Agriculture) rarely make public policy based on fact.  Michael Taylor, the President’s hand-picked senior adviser at the Food and Drug Administration, is at the point of this latest attack on the Gulf Region.  Taylor has spent most of the last 20 years going back and forth between the FDA and agribusiness giant Monsanto.  This is a gross conflict of interest but one that has existed now through four administrations.  Both Presidents Bush, President Clinton and now President Obama have appointed multiple Monsanto executives to policy making positions in all three government agencies responsible for regulating food safety.  The situation is referred to as the Monsanto/Government Revolving Door and it has been placing the public at risk since the 1970’s. 

The chief method for the post-harvest processing treatment of oysters is irradiation – exposure to low-dose gamma radiation. In 1993 the FDA approved food irradiation despite major health concerns. They ignored the fact that lab animals consuming irradiated foods experienced premature death, mutation, reproductive problems, tumors and suppressed immune function and that irradiation creates unique radiolytic products that cause cancer and birth defects in humans. There is also irrefutable evidence that irradiation destroys the nutritional benefits of the food exposed to it. Since the process was patented by Monsanto the company stands to reap a windfall from the new policy while the potential impact on the Gulf States’ economy is $500 million annually.

FDA/Monsanto spokesman Michael Taylor feels that the new regulations on raw Gulf oysters are necessary because nearly 15 people a year die from ingesting oysters contaminated with Vibrio vulnificus.  All victims have suffered from weak immune systems caused by various diseases like AIDS and diabetes.  According to Taylor these high-risk groups are just not heeding the warnings about raw oysters which contribute to the dozen or so annual deaths.  Consequently, Monsanto’s genetically modified corn process has been identified as the primary cause of every e coli outbreak on record, an average of 200 deaths a year just in the US.  Additionally, obesity kills 400,000 Americans each year and the chief culprit, high-fructose corn syrup, is another Monsanto invention. 

For more on the FDA’s ban on raw Gulf oysters you can read the AP article written by Cain Burdeau and Phillip Rawls by clicking HERE.

Photo courtesy of Wintzell’s Oyster House, Mobile, AL.

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Stuart Reb Donald

Stuart is a celebrity chef and award winning food writer. Donald performs live cooking demonstrations and penned the cookbook Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor."

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