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The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Chinese products: a danger to the world?

"Made in China" may soon be seen not as a recommendation, but as a warning.

Three babies have died and at least 6,200 have fallen ill, many with kidney stones, after consuming milk manufactured by the Sanlu group of China. The milk had been contaminated with melamine. Shockingly, the milk from 20 other Chinese milk manufacturers has also been found to contain the adulterant.

Now, for those who attend to the news, this seems all very familiar. Even the word melamine should be known to many readers. This is because China has done this before. This is the not the first poisonous baby milk scandal. It is also not the first time melamine has ended up in food. What is really disgusting is why melamine is put in food - deliberately. It fools the chemical tests used to determine the quality of the food. Yes, that is right, melamine is deliberately being put in Chinese food to make it look better on scientific tests. You see, melamine is nitrogen bearing and fools tests into determining that the food is protein rich (since nitrogen is used as a marker for the presence of protein, which contains nitrogen). That is why it is being put into baby milk - to make the milk seem richer and better. In fact, it becomes a toxic beverage that can kill babies. Thus, those who adulterate the milk supply with melamine do so for personal profit, at the expense of the lives and health of thousands of babies. That is the reality of modern Chinese business practices.

It is not long since thousands of American dogs fell ill, many dying due to melamine contamination of their pet food - for the same reason, no doubt, as the baby milk was contaminated - to make money for some crooked businessman.

In the Sanlu case, two brothers have been arrested for supplying three tons of adulterated milk, per day, to Sanlu. They had been watering the milk down, to increase profits, and had hidden this dilution by adding melamine to make it seem richer in protein than it actually was (thus obscuring the fact that it had been diluted). They face the death penalty if convicted - and frankly I hope they get it, for babies have died because of their greed and dishonesty and many thousands are ill.

The nauseating twist in the tale is the motivation of the brothers for doing this. It was a way of getting back at Sanlu for rejecting past shipments of milk (no doubt for being substandard) and costing them lost revenue. So, they hatched the plot as a means to extract extra money from Sanlu to compensate them for previous losses. It was a case of business revenge. Yet, babies are paying the price for this spitefulness with their lives.

The fact that 20 companies in China have been producing contaminated milk shows that dishonesty, greed and a disregard for the health of the consumer are rampant in Chinese business. This means that no Chinese product can be regarded as safe for consumption. There are many instances of poisoning in other foodstuffs and pharmaceuticals, as well as many other areas such as lead bearing toys.

These kinds of problems in Chinese business have been going on for many years - and nothing effective seems to be being done about it. So, as a consumer, there is only one thing you can do to protect yourself and your family: look for the Made in China label - and refuse to buy it. Yes, it may be cheap, but it may also be dangerous and, to my eyes, dangerous is never truly cheap - for the price in health can be very high.

I hear that the FDA of America has checked with all major US manufacturers of baby milk to check that they are not sourcing their materials in China. It is time for other countries, too, to be wary of anything of Chinese origin.

I hope to see a day when Chinese business behaves with the regard and respect for the consumer common in the Western world. What is certain is that they are not there yet.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and seven months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, five years exactly, and Tiarnan, twenty-eight months, please go to: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, гений ребенок prodigy, genie, μεγαλοφυία θαύμα παιδιών, bambino, kind.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 12:25 PM 

10 Comments:

Anonymous ks said...

...and to put everyone at ease, a spokesman gave an interview yesterday, saying, "It is safe to purchase products from this company now". I hope his fellow countrymen don't believe him.

3:02 PM  
Blogger Miao said...

If my memory serves me correct, Chinese-made milk powder also killed numerous Panaman children in the past. Their toy exports also contained excessive lead contents, and they had to be recalled from the shelves in the US. I am sure you have heard of all these incidents before, amongst many others.

It is worrying that China's unstoppable economic rise is coupled with so many serious problems. The issue you have highlighted here seems to take a much deeper root - the main glitch perhaps lies not in the inadequacy of policies but probably in the lack of business ethics.

5:45 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes, Miao. China is capable of getting the technology right - but it is not capable of dealing with morality issues: if there is a buck to be made from harming the customer, they will do it. It is an entirely different way of looking at the world: the dollar is more important than human life, there.

Best wishes

7:01 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Hi KS,

I wouldn't touch ANY Chinese food brand - I wouldn't want to imperil my health or that of my family. So far, over 70 brands and 20 companies are implicated in this baby milk scandal. Therefore it is a widespread problem across the whole of the Chinese food industry. It is not an isolated incident. "Made in China" on the label, could kill your baby. It simply isn't funny.

7:04 PM  
Blogger Miao said...

By the way, I once had a debate with a Chinese friend regarding the moral conduct of many Chinese businessmen. I said that many made-in-China products contain components that could potentially endanger the consumer's health/life, and that generally Chinese goods are of inferior quality. Being a patriot, she retorted, "Well, until now no one in Singapore has been victimised, has there?" She seemed to be implying that just because it hasn't taken place in Singapore, we are in no position to criticise.

Anyway, I just said (rather tersely), "I would consider SARS a Chinese export." She just went on offering flaccid arguments and making vague statements which totally had no compelling force, and eventually I got so tired talking with her that I ended the conversation.

12:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps overcrowding in China has led to the devaluation of human life. It's a very sad state of affairs.

1:11 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes, Miao, dodgy Chinese business practices could lead to a worldwide epidemic of bird flu or something similar. It is worrying that they don't think of the health implications of what they do - just of the dollars.

Best wishes

7:18 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Re. Overcrowding: interesting perspective - and it may be so. Cities are less pleasant than villages, in general.

7:19 AM  
Blogger Shannon said...

Where is the regulation? It should be mandatory to test for toxic substances. It should be mandatory for businesses to implement the procedures, equipment, and technology to test for chemicals like melamine. Although it's impossible to "police" the entire food industry, I believe that this scandal was preventable. Long before the milk contamination, China had notice that many of its food products were dangerous and unfit for consumption. Did the government do anything with this knowledge? Evidently not. This shows that consumer protection is not a priority in China.

2:58 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Hi Shannon,

There has never been any other priority than to make money, in the Chinese system. If money can be made, anything will be done - even if it kills people (as we have seen time and time again). It is appalling, actually.

It is curious to observe that a nation whose businessmen have such a disregard for human life, is rising in the world. The question is: why?

3:43 PM  

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