Our purchase of ingredients and finished products from the Chinese has been one disaster after another.

The first to be publicized was contaminated ingredients destined for pet food, and for food for animals destined for human consumption. We then learned of farm-raised fish and seafood contaminated with chemicals, antibiotics and filth; harmful ingredients in toothpaste; defective tires and finally lead paint on children's toys. It now develops that there is a problem with Chinese-manufactured pharmaceuticals, both ingredients and finished products. Not all such drugs are improperly made, but there is virtually no inspection of plants or items manufactured, so we do not know. Drugs manufactured in this country are subject to rigid inspection both in manufacture and the finished product.

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We assume that drugs are as they are supposed to be, but sadly with foreign manufacture this is not always true. Some years ago the Chinese manufactured intravenous antibiotic gentamicin was found to have a wide range of quality and effectiveness and was presumed to have contributed to injury and death. Nothing effective was done by our government to prevent a reoccurrence.

These problems must be corrected. The first step is to require country-of-origin labels on all imports. This must include ingredients as well as the finished products.

We next must adequately fund the FDA and require it to inspect foreign manufacturing plants and the products that they wish to sell in this country. This would not cost any tax dollars as the cost would be charged back to the sellers as is done by the FDA with products made here.

More than a year ago Congress passed and President Bush signed a law requiring country-of-origin labels on food. The administration has delayed enforcement. The Department of Agriculture is now holding hearings on this issue. Comments from the public will be considered if received by Aug. 20.

I urge you to write and demand country of origin labels on all foods. The e-mail address is cool@usda.gov. The mailing address is Country of Origin Labeling Program, Room 2607-S, Agriculture Marketing Service, 1400 Indiana Ave. S.W., Washington, DC 20250