by Panos Mourdoukoutas, Forbes Contributor
Let me be clear from the beginning. I’m an enthusiastic advocate of globalization and free trade, and see clear benefits for investors, companies, and consumers.
Nonetheless, I cannot help but add my voice to all of those who are concerned about a peculiar trade between the US and China that followed China’s entry to WTO – and which received the blessings of USDA recently – the export of American-raised chickens to China for processing and then re-import to America.
First, I cannot see any clear economic benefits of this trade for American consumers. Meat processing is a highly automated process. Add transportation time and costs, and profits from the trade are likely to be limited or eliminated – unless there is a secret element to the trade that makes it extremely profitable.
Second, I can see many obscure costs when it comes to the quality of processed food. This is evidenced by scores of stories of people getting seriously sick or dying – both inside and outside China – from tainted food, medicine, and personal care items. Examples include dental paste and cold syrup mixed with poisonous chemicals, substandard baby formulas, and more.
To be fair, stories of tainted food aren’t unique to China. America has its own share. But there is a clear difference here: in the US, most cases of tainted food appear to be accidental.
In China they appear to be the result of ruthless profiteering.
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