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Pangasius and the “Folly of Protectionism”
Wednesday,28 July,2010 11:43:46
It was in this very space seven days ago that the ills of a “business model that includes stifling competition by attempting to regulate imports out of the market with exaggerated attacks and twisted food safety claims” was discussed as one that “threatens the integrity of an entire industry.”
And here we are not a week later and the Catfish Farmers of America can be found in the press insisting there are “alarming health dangers” associated with their competition.
As the late Ronald Reagan said, “There you go again.”
Perhaps it’s time we call a spade a spade and lay waste to the rhetorical jousting and slick lobbying and just shine a light on what’s happening here.
Let’s start with two facts. One: imported pangasius is a delicious, healthy fish, safely imported from international trading partners. Two: domestic farm raised catfish is a delicious, healthy fish, safely harvested in the U.S.
Those are the facts.
Having said that—no one believes the Catfish Farmers of America actually think this is a “health and safety issue.” No one. Everyone knows the game they are playing. Everyone.
When they fain distress over an issue made even more “shocking in the face of the new report compiled by...Exponent that exposes the alarming health dangers”— it’s an embarrassing window on a special interest group that appears to either think the audience is dim or special interest group that has truly lost all perspective.
“Shock,” over a report they commissioned? “Alarming health dangers,” from a study whose supporting material finds bacterial issues in the domestic and imported product that were “not significantly different?”
The proponents of protectionism say they’re “not asking for imported catfish to be treated any differently than (catfish raised in the United States)”—no kidding. They’ve both been overseen by FDA since the dawn of regulation. They never have been treated differently.
This thin faux food safety argument continues to represent a dangerous tactic that could hurt the entire seafood community in order to stifle a single aspect of competition.
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In explaining what he called the “folly of protectionism”, again, Ronald Reagan said, “over the past 200 years, not only has the argument against tariffs and trade barriers won nearly universal agreement among economists, but it has also proven itself in the real world where we have seen freetrading nations prosper, while protectionist countries fall behind.”