Greg Autry

Fighting for space, not over it.

Apple Juice, Dr. Oz and Death by China

In September, Pop TV doctor, Dr. Mehmet Oz reported on the dangerous rise in Arsenic concentrations in our nation’s apple juice supply. At the time big agri-business, and their goons in the press vilified the good doctor. The FDA backed the juice industry as well and sent a letter to Oz suggesting his lab results were incorrect.

Recent evidence, however vindicates Oz’s claim and we’d like to take the opportunity to point out that we warned the public of this threat and even identified the likely source of the problem – China – with the publication of our book, Death by China way back in May. Here is an excerpt from our chapter:

A Chinese “Apple a Day” Keeps American Oncologists Fully Employed

Consider, for example, the sweet and cuddly “juice box” you might pack in your child’s lunch. There’s a good chance this ostensibly “healthy” alternative to soda pop might be dosing your kid with arsenic, a heavy metal that can cause cancer. Here’s why:
Over the past 30 years, Chinese exports of apple juice concentrate have soared from 10,000 gallons a year to almost half a billion; and today China commands half or more of the U.S. market. Sure, the juice is cheaper than what American farmers can produce. But one reason is that Chinese orchards rely heavily on illegal arsenic-based pesticides that are absorbed by the tree and concentrated in the fruit.

To make matters worse, apple juice is used as “natural” sweetener if huge variety of other juices, desserts and other food products. Who knows where this is going.

To the broader point, we observed in Death by China:

For our refrigerator, China is the largest exporter of seafood to the United States, a key supplier of white meat chicken, and of course, the world’s third largest tea exporter. The Dragon also provides 60% of our apple juice concentrate, 50% of our garlic, and significant amounts of everything from canned pears and preserved mushrooms to honey and royal bee jelly.

For our medicine cabinet, China likewise produces 70% of the world’s penicillin, 50% of its aspirin, and 33% of its acetaminophen, or Tylenol. Chinese drug companies have also captured much of the world market in antibiotics, enzymes, primary amino acids, and vitamins. The Dragon has even cornered the world market for vitamin C[md]with 90% of market share[md]even as it plays a dominant role in the production of vitamins A, B12, and E, besides many of the raw ingredients that go into multivitamins.
These statistics should disturb all of us for one simple reason: Far too much of what the Dragon is flooding our grocery stores and drug emporia with is pure poison. That’s why Chinese foods and drugs always rank number 1 of those flagged down at the border or recalled by both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Food Safety Authority.

It is long past time for us to reconsider the sanity of outsourcing our food and product safety to a despotic nation that has shown little respect for the lives its own people or its own environment. Placing the burden on American taxpayer funded agencies like the FDA or Consumer Products Safety Commission to do the QA work for China is just as crazy.

The government likes to bury the story because it likes Chinese money financing our massive debt. So we have had a succession of eunuchs in the White House and at Treasury on the China question.

So we believe the media, particularly the financial media needs to step up here, We are doing a terrible job of covering this story because of a fear of upsetting the economic Apple Cart. Wall Street likes the China trade – even if it is killing our kids on Main Street.
Please understand that the China problem on both the product safety and unfair trade practices front is a systemic one that is greatly harming this country. As Navarro is fond of commenting on the Kudlow show, “It’s not China bashing if it’s true.”

Greg Autry and Peter Navarro are the co-authors of Death by China.  They teach macroeconomics at the Merage School of Business, UC Irvine.  For more information, please visit http://www.gregautry.us and follow the authors on Facebook and Twitter.

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