By Dan Shapley
After Repeated Scandals, Senator Calls For New Post
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has a solution to the slew of scandals surrounding unsafe imports from China -- create a government post to keep watch. The call for an Import Safety Czar echoes an earlier creation of a Food Safety Czar at the Food and Drug Administration. That post was created in response to the food and drug safety scandals this year -- involving toxic pet food, toothpaste and seafood -- that have largely stemmed from Chinese goods. Both posts seem to miss a critical point: No one person can effect much change without vigilance -- and manpower -- throughout the import inspection system. After 9/11, calls for increased security at ports led to some improvements, but most containers entering the United States are not inspected. After the food safety scandals, the FDA stepped up monitoring of imports, and even stopped shipments of farmed seafood from China after shipments repeatedly showed banned and carcinogenic antibiotics. But the system seems riddled with holes no one person could hope to fill. Americans will either have to invest in new capacity at the borders, or accept the risk that comes with a complex global food and goods market.