The current hullabaloo over imports from China is frustrating to watch. It has led to calls to ban all imports from China, set up new systems to test incoming products, and generally given politicians way too much opportunity for mindless blathering and calls for expensive or impossible safety measures.
We cannot afford to test all incoming products, and we cannot ban imports from China. A system exists right now to assure safe and effective products from all countries, and it does not cost the U.S. taxpayer anything.
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Conformity Assessment Committee, the International Accreditation Forum (IAF), and the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) have established a system of standards and processes to verify the competence of producers and to test these products for safety and proper function (depending whether the product is food, toys, pharmaceuticals, telephones or automobiles).
This system is in place now, and accreditors in most countries (including the U.S. and China) are following the rigorous process of accreditation to international standards, peer-assessment, and mutual promotion of the agreement. The system has been endorsed by the World Trade Organization, the United Nations, the World Health Organization, the International Electrotechnical Commission, and a host of other respected global organizations. Further details can be obtained from www.ilac.org.
What is needed is to have bulk customers (not consumers) require that the producers they buy from must be certified for manufacture of the product, and that the product must be tested for compliance to specific requirements by an accredited laboratory.
In the recent very visible cases, the pet food, toy, and pharmaceutical manufacturers did not demand that the products be tested by an accredited laboratory, or that the manufacturers be certified for the products they were selling. If the customers had demanded certification and accredited testing, these manufacturers would have obtained it from their government or other organizations (it varies by country). Such verification is mandatory only in Europe for some products, but almost everywhere else it is voluntary. Note that the consumer cannot do this; it is the responsibility of the bulk purchasers.
Trillions of dollars in products and services are being traded under this system, and it works. It is working not just to assure safety and that products work, but it also works to reduce the enormous amount of wasted products Syrian oranges that arrive in Europe and must be dumped at sea because they do not meet local standards; Volkswagens that are produced for the US market but cant be sold because they fail EPA emissions tests; Mattel toys that must be disposed as toxic waste. The examples and dollars involved every year are mind-boggling, but usually they are not publicly reported..
Anyone buying anything for resale has an obligation to require verification of competence of the supplier, and the conformity of the product to specified criteria. Purchasing on the basis of price alone only leads to unfortunate news stories.
Dan Tholen TC
The real culprit...
I was an honors student in philosophy during college, and did extensive research in the philosophy of science during my studies.
One of the conclusions I came to in these studies is how much of modern scientific knowledge is labeled as fact by the general public, when in reality the knowledge should be labeled as theory. Among the bodies of knowledge we should be careful to label as theory are evolution, the Big Bang, and of course global warming.
The only true knowledge anyone has is personal experience. If you saw something happen, then to you, it is true. All other information about the world, if you did not personally see it happen, must be accepted on the basis of faith that the source of the information is valid. Additionally, one must also recognize the limitations of human language to describe occurrences in the physical world. People often see the same thing but describe it differently. In certain disciplines, such as chemistry, we can be confident that scientists have faithfully communicated the results of experimentation to the public. The results can also be seen in applications such as the creation of fuels, plastics, building materials, and so forth.
On the other hand, it is impossible to test certain theories because we cannot go back in time to make the necessary observations. The theory of evolution is a perfect example, as no one was around three billion years ago to observe an amoeba growing legs and crawling out of the primordial soup. Similarly, we do not have scientific measurements of weather conditions dating back more than 150 years or so. The only truth about global warming is that there has been an increase in average global temperatures in recent years. As to the causes of this increase, we cannot draw definite conclusions because our data is so limited. We can speculate on the reasons and begin testing, of course, but most scientists will tell you the verdict is not yet in.
Personally, I believe greenhouse gas emissions do play a part in the recent rise in average temperatures, but I would also point out that deforestation in Brazil and tropical Africa are probably doing thousands of times more harm to global climate patterns than auto exhaust in industrialized nations and people burning wood to keep warm in the third world. Also, were just one large volcanic eruption away from reverting back to a much colder climate, and one cataclysmic solar burst away from being burned to a cinder.
In closing, I would caution everyone to recognize the uncertainties involved in scientific theory, and refrain from ignorantly labeling certain theories as fact. I would bet anything the real culprit in global warming is deforestation, but I hear little or nothing about this in the media or in the hysterical pronunciations of people like Al Gore and Sheryl Crow.
Ken Carter TC
Last weeks story on Marlins House of Brews in Frankfort had a number of errors:
Andrew, the husband of Courtney Miller-Lamb, is the manager of A. Papanos in Frankfort, not the owner.
Andrea Randolph and Tom Metes are the owners of Marlins. Andrea is renting the building which houses the business.
Courtney Miller-Lamb is the manager of Marlins, not the owner.
Marlins hours are 8-3, not 8-4.
There are no plans for a Halloween party this year.