Two years ago, arsenic was not in the news. Today, almost every day there's a new article about dangerous arsenic levels making something poisonous and unsafe:
You can hear conservatives reading this and going, "Really, liberals/scientists? You're saying rice is bad too? Why not just ban everything?" And why now, and why so suddenly - how was rice fine a year ago but TODAY it's dangerous?
So now let's walk back from the bristling irritation of reading a headline, to what happened.
The FDA and USDA have been avoiding action on arsenic for decades because the agricultural industry has been lobbying to delay it.
It's not that arsenic suddenly became poisonous, or suddenly appeared in people's drinking water and food - it's that it's always been in fertilizer, we've been using way too much of it, and arsenic levels have been steadily rising. Worse, the agricultural lobby has been bribing politicians and suing to delay telling the basic truth: That too much arsenic is poisonous, and it's in a lot of agricultural water because of these excessive uses of fertilizer.
OK, but aren't you, liberals and scientists, once again, anti-business? Aren't you accusing businesses of being evil? This sure sounds like some anti-corporation conspiracy theory. We're tired of that, say conservatives. Well - sort of.
Rice is cheap, so it's made cheaply: with way, way too much fertilizer, and in many cases, with waste water which contains even more arsenic from fertilizer or fracking and drilling. You'd never grow food for yourself that way, but these growers know you aren't checking on them when you buy a bag of rice, and they know you will buy that other bag of rice if they don't have the lowest price. So, they can do this to you, or go out of business.
So it's not that these businesses are evil. It's that they're slaves to our poor market forces. The Invisible Hand of Capitalism works best with a consumer that considers EVERY quality of the product before buying. But most consumers are very poorly informed about what they're purchasing, other than price - and a blind consumer hurts the market. Arsenic in drinking water, foods, and rice, is a classic case of blind buyers shaking all the goodly growers out because their prices are too high, and leaving only the ones who over-fertilize behind to dominate the market.
Of course there is SOME evil here you can't avoid: When agriculture lobbies the government to keep them from saying they're poisoning you and your children, it's hard to paint that in a good light. It's just plain evil.
So, from someone who leans left and prefers science over popular politics, if you happen to lean right, consider the case of arsenic next time you hear liberals upset over the latest thing in the news. Sometimes they really are being idiots. Sometimes they're just forcing society to finally be honest.