Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Everyday, run-of-the-mill pet poisonings

The news that rat poison is the likely culprit in the rash of pet deaths caused by eating contaminated foods has set off the conspiracy theorists. But Deborah Blum, writing today in the New York Times, reminds us that poisoned pets are an unfortunate but predictable outcome of living in a world full of intentional poisons:

"We lean toward the saboteur and the murderous poisoner because they’ve always lived among us, and because they make excellent scapegoats. But we’re all poisoners in our way — purchasers of roach sprays, consumers of perfect produce delivered by grace of dangerous chemicals. Every so often, we are forced to realize that, like the arsenic poisoners of old, our lifestyle also demands innocent victims."

The most current theory goes like this: The Chinese processing facility that supplied Menu Foods with contaminated wheat gluten had a rat problem - not too surprising. They used rat poison to deal with it - a perfectly run-of-the-mill thing to do. The idea that pesticides don't stick where you put them, and sometimes wind up causing real harm, shouldn't surprise us. We've seen it over and over again, in our food, in our water and in our bodies. It doesn't take a saboteur to get pesticides into our bodies - they get there easily without malicious interference.

Look no further than the poisoner in the miror, says Blum. Until we develop a lifestyle that doesn't depend on poisons, we can expect to continue producing innocent victims as well.

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