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Food, drug scandals threaten governance
Global Times | April 20, 2012 00:25
By Global Times
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The drug industry suffered a new blow with the exposure of industrial gelatin used in medicine capsules. Chen Zhu, minister of public health, called on the public to trust in pharmaceutical companies. However, regulation of the industry has fallen far below public requirements. Both the food and drug sectors are apparently full of loopholes.

It is not fair to place all the blame on the supervision authorities. The current moral and legislature standard of the country cannot meet the demands of modern industrial society. The drug and food industries have fallen so far behind, their progress needs comprehensive growth from society.

Each food safety scandal could become an issue of public crisis. The worry over what people put in their mouths could escalate into panic. If this happens, the public could vent their anger at the failure of government supervision. In several recent cases, this anger has been extended to the entire political system.

Solutions to food and drug safety problems seem nowhere in sight. Manufacturers will not accept moral responsibility, but law enforcement cannot be significantly enhanced in a short time. Furthermore, requiring more public tolerance is becoming impossible. The only thing the government can do is to apply severe punishment to food safety violators, including persons and officials aiding and abetting them.

The food and drug industries can be singed out to set higher safety standard and stricter regulation for the entire society. In the US, the FDA was given much more power early last century, essential for its effectiveness in cracking down on such scandals.

In some sectors, regulators have been dangerously inactive toward various violations. Only harsh punishment can curb this trend. The food and drug industries can be a good starting point. Public trust and hope for the future greatly hinges on the regulations on these two fields.

The fast development of the country has also exposed many supervision loopholes. Despite the government's willingness and urgency in curbing such loopholes, they are still creating tangible problems for the public. The ability to govern is dependent on the speed at which these specific problems can be solved once and for all.

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