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The special interest, anti-competition lobby is expert at misrepresenting data and warping anecdotal tales of woe into food safety scares that have little or no validity.
Today they are at it again on Capitol Hill. The Catfish Farmers of America will stand shoulder to shoulder with their lobbyist brethren to tell Americans that imported fish like pangasius from Vietnam (which they will call catfish despite having said "that fish and ours are as close taxonomically as a house cat and a cow," when it served a different lobbying need) is a food safety risk.
Despite whatever statistical analysis they’ve conjured up this time their argument will fall flat on a number of points. First, up until now a large helping of their “statistics” have come from Alabama Agriculture Commissioner, Ron Sparks, who is running for governor. And wouldn’t you know it he banned a catfish competitor from sale on Wednesday November the 4th and then was the beneficiary of a planned $50,000 campaign fund raiser sponsored by catfish farmers on Tuesday November 10th .
Next, they will talk about the negative impact on public health of the imported fish like pangasius but won’t be able to point to any large scale CDC recorded instances of people actually becoming sick from the product.
But wait, they could point to the fact that the CDC found that 10 people became ill from a product labeled “catfish” back in 1991 at a restaurant in New Jersey. So, while the CDC estimates that 76 million Americans get sick from food-borne illnesses each year, this effort appears to be targeted at reducing the 10 illnesses reported in the past 19 years. That’s a pretty comprehensive public health effort.
Is pointing out the fact that catfish-industry-supported gubernatorial candidate Ron Sparks distributed more than $3 million in funds to 138 Alabama catfish producers in February and more than $12 million dollars to them in just 18 months, a snarky way to say he does not appear to be a dispassionate public health official concerned about the welfare of consumers?
Is noting that the domestic catfish lobby claimed eight years ago that their competition was an entirely different species than they say it is now, a bit of a dig that parrots what the Wall Street Journal called a “linguistic backflip?”
What about suggesting the anti-competition lobby was diligently testing imported fish to ensure 10 people over the course of two decades didn’t come down with symptoms of upset stomach? Is that a question loaded with white hot derision, perhaps?
But it all serves one purpose. To demonstrate how ludicrous their arguments are and how weak their execution is. It will take only a few educated journalists to ask the right questions in order to expose this special interest charade for what it is.
Are you one of those journalists? Or will you simply smile and eat up their latest batch of deep fried distortion?