>> A lot of people prefer to ride without a helmet. Should
>> that be illegal?
> I don't see these as analogous issues. There is no question
> about what happens when an unprotected skull hits the pavement
> at 60 miles per hour. There are still legitimate questions
> about what happens when irradiated foodstuffs are consumed
> as part of a long-term diet.
This reminds me of my time in Colombia. WEARING a helmet was illegal in
Cali because helmets made it harder to identify the motorcycle-riding
assassins so common in Colombia. So I guess risk assessment is a political
issue (but I'll bet a lot more Colombians were killed in motorcycle
accidents than by assassins!)
> It is not yet clear, to me and many others, that the connection
> between public policy and personal safety has been made for
> irradiated foods.
Do I really need to do a literature search and trot out statistics about how
many thousands of people are made ill or killed each year from E-coli or
Salmonella from meat? I'm sure many of these could have been prevented by
> Food safety is a public issue, of course, but irradiation is
> being promoted as a cure-all measure for food-borne disease
> problems that might better be solved by other means.
First, I have never heard this called a "cure all" by proponents of
irradiation. They regard it as just another santitation tool.
Second, the argument you make is like saying "helmet laws are not needed
since the root cause is people driving too fast and not being careful."
Sure, if everybody (every single person on the line) was more responsible
and careful in the meat industry, irradiation might not be needed. But shit
(literally) happens, things go wrong, people are inattentive, unseen
mistakes occur. This is true even in small scale production. The problem
in large scale production is that a minute amount of fecal material could
contaminate 100,000 pounds of ground beef, and hurt thousands of people in
The advantage of top-down regulation like helmet laws and irradiation of
meat, is that it provides a back-up safety system in case personal morality
and responsibility are inconsistent (as they always are in large human
systems like highways and meat packing plants).
> Before we start nuking everything we eat, perhaps we should
> look at how the food is grown, what's being fed to it,....
Despite your inflammatory language, the argument against irradiation really
comes down to whether or not the practice has any deleterious side-effects,
and how serious they are.
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