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Friday, August 19, 2005

a weasel congressman, the fda, and protection of the catfish industry

Read about the latest pathetic attempt by the catfish protectionists to prevent us from buying Vietnamese catfish (er, excuse me, I mean "basa fish"), this time claiming that it's for our own good. Apparently the Vietnamese catfish have trace amounts of a harmless although non-FDA approved antibioitic (fluoroquinolone) in them. U.S. Congressman from Arkansas Mike Ross is asking the FDA to halt the importation of the "contaminated" fish.

A couple of years ago, Lew Rockwell wrote in this mises.org article about the many blatant attempts by the U.S. catfish industry, starting in the early 90's, to force U.S. consumers to pay more for catfish than necessary. As you can see, this antiobiotic angle is just the latest attack on consumers from the catfish mercantilists.

UPDATE: It is being reported in this Sun Herald story that the FDA should have a ruling next week.
FDA spokesman Mike Herndon said Thursday a decision could come next week on how the agency will rule on the multimillion-dollar catfish imports. The agency is under pressure from an Arkansas congressman for a nationwide ban.

"Right now it's a state issue," Herndon said in a telephone interview from FDA's office in Rockville, Md.

Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana banned Vietnam basa catfish after officials detected antibiotics given to prevent disease in Vietnamese fish.

Herndon said FDA has the option of issuing an import alert or seizing the product "or a combination of both."
Seizing the product!? I can just picture some jackbooted FDA thugs knocking down doors at some fishmarket in Arkansas in the middle of the night, scrambling through the aisles to seize the contraband Vietnamese catfish, all because the fish might contain traces of a harmless antibiotic which is approved in the U.S. for use in humans, but not in food.
Catfish exports to the United States were badly affected after the U.S. imposed a tariff of up to 64 percent two years ago following a lawsuit filed against Vietnamese catfish farmers, claiming they had dumped the fish on the American market at lower than market price.

(President of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers Ho Quoc) Luc said Vietnam has expanded its catfish markets to Europe and the Middle East since then.

Alabama Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks said he's concerned that a consumer might be allergic to the antibiotic. Alabama's ban affected about 25 tons of imported farmed seafood, Sparks said earlier this month.
Well, let's see...if you find that you are for some reason allergic to Vietnamese catfish...then...don't buy them next time!
Infinity Seafoods Inc. CEO Andrew Forman of Boston, Mass., who imports basa catfish from Vietnam, said, "The problem is the benchmark price of domestic catfish is high. Basa has proven to be a viable alternative. It is a price war."
And in a price war, of course, inefficient industries look to the coercive power of the state for assistance, rather than actually competing on price or quality.

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