Triple Crisis Blogger Sunita Narain published this article in the Business Standard on the problems with the way the world is producing food and managing food safety regulations.
Once again there is a food safety scare. A deadly strain of E coli bacterium has hit Germany, where it has so far taken the lives of 25 people and affected another 2,300. German food inspectors on the trail of the source of contamination first blamed Spanish cucumbers and are now indicting organic bean sprouts — eating healthy will soon be bad.
This is because food inspectors refuse to look where it matters. The fact is that something is seriously wrong with the way the world is producing food and even more with the way it is managing its regulations for safety. But we just don’t get it.
Let’s recap past food scares to understand the crisis and the response.
In 2005, avian influenza hit the chicken we eat. The world went on the rampage, killing chickens and wild birds to contain the deadly virus spreading across the connected world. But nobody targeted the real problem: the nature of the modern world’s poultry business, which is highly vertically integrated and globalised, and produces factory chickens, not food. In this business, companies strive for lower cost of production because agri-business requires scale and global reach.