Saturday, 27 March 2010
Shop Until You Drop
Consider this wild idea. I go into my garage, take the bucket I use for clearing the drains and put a variety of things into it. I put in a small amount of used engine oil, some petrol, a few liquids off the shelf in plastic bottles and some old detergent and fabric conditioner.
Then I remind myself it had better be classified as “natural” so I add what the cat left behind, some manure garnered from a passing horse rider, and a liquid bought from a door to door salesman who assured me that the bottled product of his goat would cure my skin problems.
This is then “let down” with a lot of ethanol, derived from corn, so again is “natural”, coloured with some potassium cyanide and put into the pesticide spray device that I used on the garden, the one that killed all those unwanted worms, the residue of which will allow me to claim that it has antibacterial properties.
Then I trot along to the local supermarket and rigorously spray all the products, especially the food aisles with open display, the fish counter, and the delicatessen. Just to make sure I give the Organic section a double helping. I claim to be doing this as a public service and to ensure shoppers all have the same quality.
What might then happen? Assume that I am then arrested and arraigned before a Jury. How do I defend myself? The obvious defence is that I am not doing anything that differs from what many supermarkets are now doing and other food and retail outlets.
They are using “air conditioning” and “air freshening” devices in their ventilation systems and very active in pushing scents and chemicals into the air of their stores to create an atmosphere which they intend to promote sales. The delicate aroma of goat’s product they hope will enhance the demand for the organic goat’s cheese. It might be a highly distilled version of it or it might be the laboratory product of a chemical factory staffed by forced labour somewhere up a large river in Asia.
Of course, their stuff will be a lot more cleverly made than mine. They will have had highly paid teams of chemical engineers using powerful synthesised chemicals to create the aromatics and air treatment substances tuned to an exact requirement. Not only will they wipe out your sense of smell they will be engineered to impact on your brain and behavioural responses.
My problem is that I will have to get the evidence. Because the supermarket and its suppliers of their substances will not be required to produce it, indeed they will be protected from revealing either the content or the processes of manufacture on the grounds of “commercial confidentiality”
Indeed, if the product is actually made in the UK on the basis of government funded research the raw data on which they make their claims for the product will have been routinely destroyed. Of course there is no government funded research into the long term or other effects or to seek causes of problems. This does not create added value.
How might I avoid the penalties of the law for interfering in the supermarket’s business? What I could do is put a sob story to a leading media player on a personal interest basis, the “small man” battling bureaucracy. If they could get me to a senior government minister for him to override his department and grant me clearance I could go ahead with it and might even interest a leading maker of this kind of product.
This, you might think is all absolute raving lunacy, but it has happened already. In 2005 during the election campaign, John Reid, then at Health, approved a garage made product without waiting for the usual procedures to be completed. This contained a strong whack of Triclosan.
This is a substance once used in Agent Orange,, which during the Vietnam War deforested a lot of territory and left a trail of human medical problems behind for those on the wrong end of it and those delivering it. Its makers gained clearance in the USA during the Nixon Presidency for use in commercial products. Does this inspire you with confidence?
John Reid cleared it for use in hospitals during the infection panic at the time. One claimed effect of Triclosan is that can negate the effect of antibiotics. In short during a panic on hospital infections, Reid approved a product that could prevent antibiotics from doing their job.
Enjoy your shopping this week.