It's sickening

This is a story about the high cost of "free" trade -- and how it can make you sick. Literally.


The Food and Drug Administration finally found the likely source of that recent salmonella outbreak that sickened nearly 1,300 people in 43 states, the District of Columbia and Canada since April: a Mexican pepper farm. Authorities said they found the same strain of salmonella from the outbreak in both peppers and irrigation water at the farm.

You didn't have to get sick to feel sick, either: The salmonella scare, which initially centered on tomatoes, cost Georgia growers alone about $30 million, according to the University of Georgia.

Such outbreaks can occur, one supposes, anywhere. But the unpleasant, and politically incorrect, truth is that regulations and oversight of agriculture are different around the world, as are farming traditions and practices.

The Most High Church of Free Trade ignores this fact, preaching earnestly that it's all the same. Clearly, it isn't. This outbreak proves it.

Growers and distributors in the United States have reserved their anger, until now, for the FDA and Centers for Disease Control for taking too long in figuring out what happened. But in truth, the real culprit here may be trade policies that find U.S. producers working under much stricter regulations than their foreign competitors. And getting punched in the gut for their trouble.

It's sickening.