Bet you thought the Environmental Protection Agency and other Federal Agencies worked for the public good? Wrong again. The EPA under Bush is just another Federal Agency working to protect corporate interests. This time its corporate popcorn profits.
After you read the story in the Seattle PI today you probably won’t want to eat any more microwavable popcorn. Remember the rush of hot moisture and vapor when you open the bag and how it smells “buttery”?
As headlined in the Seattle PI today, the chemical ingredient diacetyl, which is added to popcorn to give it a buttery taste, has been linked to “the sometime fatal destruction of the lungs of hundreds of workers in food production and flavoring factories.”
As the PI correspondent Andrew Schneider writes diacetyl is in thousands of consumer products including microwaved popcorn:
Despite the worker safety findings — and despite scores of jury decisions and settlements awarding millions of dollars to workers who sued after having their lungs destroyed by exposure to diacetyl — neither the Food and Drug Administration nor the Consumer Product Safety Commission have investigated. The FDA years ago declared the chemical safe for consumption. Labels on almost all products containing it call it a flavoring and only rarely do the labels mention diacetyl.
The only government investigators to examine whether consumers are at risk — whether diacetyl is released when consumers pop corn in their home microwaves, and if so, how much — is the Environmental Protection Agency. But to the frustration of many public health workers, the findings of the EPA’s study — which began in 2003 and was completed last year — have been released only to the popcorn industry.”
The Pi notes that ConAgra, the largest supplier of microwave popcorn in the world told the EPA in 2004 that it had found that diacetyl was released when microwave popcorn bags are opened. It told EPA that “it is imperative that the health and safety of this product be assured to the extent possible within the very near future”
Bush’s EPA seems to have complied with this corporate wish. If the public doesn’t know, then it must be safe. Even though the study was completed last year the public has not been told of the results.
And even if they are, these days with non scientists in the Bush Administration rewriting and controlling the release of scientific studies it will be hard to discern what the actual study results found. And as the PI notes, this particular study was even done with industry involvement. Unfortunately it is also a limited study, not looking at health effects , only amounts of chemicals released.
And these releases to workers have been fatal. As the PI reports further diacetyl in food manufacturing plants “been linked to bronchiolitis obliterans — irreversible obstructive lung diseases — for which lung transplants are often the only way to survive.”
Despite this seriousness, both the Bush Administration Food and Drug Administration and the Consumer Product Safety Commission have declined to act. Corporate profits at any cost including human life reign supreme in the Bush Republican run Federal bureaucracy.
see additional articles:
artificial butter flavorings produced in popcorn factories linked with lung cancer
St Louis Post Dispatch – Popcorn Study showed Chemical was Toxic
Washington Post – Flavoring Suspected in Illness – Calif. Considers Banning Chemical in Microwave Popcorn
IndyStar.com – Microwave Popcorn Maker Takes Initiative