Lettuce, Vioxx, and Cigarettes in a perfect world

If this were a perfect world, putting these three items in the same sentence might not rouse any kind of negative response. For some who don’t read the newspaper or haven’t been personally impacted by any of these products, lumping them together might seem puzzling. But for those who realize that these are just examples of what happens when industries are not regulated in how they function and are able to set their own “voluntary” standards in dealing with the public health impacts of their goods, it becomes quite clear that “voluntary” participation in protecting the public doesn’t hold a candle to the concern for profits in our oh-so imperfect world.
There are so many examples of the public learning too late to save the lives of those who were unlucky enough to be on the receiving end of corporate indifference to public health and safety that it would take far too long to list them. But we do know that one of the important functions of government is to regulate industries and businesses that produce goods and services that can be potentially harmful. Sadly, we see over-and-over again instances when we simply end up closing the barn door after the animals have fled. Unfortunately, when we’re dealing with leaders who would rather let these businesses regulate themselves (i.e. letting the fox guard the hen house), the door often doesn’t get truly closed until more damage and death occurs and the public cry becomes too loud to ignore. Enter State Senator Dean Florez who represents portions of the Central Valley and is seeking to protect the public health by introducing his “California Produce Safety Action Plan” designed to create and enforce effective safety standards in the growing and processing of leafy vegetables in California.

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