View Full Version : Ron Howard-movie biggest coverup food contaminatio

05-05-2010, 10:22 PM
Ron Howard stared in made for tv movie in 1981 about the PBB contamination incident here in Michigan called Hulu - Bitter Harvest - Watch the full movie now.@@AMEPARAM@@http://www.hulu.com/embed/tkQ3Z50DqSwSLHn6NxHqmw@@AMEPARAM@@tkQ3Z50DqSwSLHn6 NxHqmw. It of course condenses the story, as movies do, but it gives a pretty good representation of the story.

When you look at the numbers and how long it went on for, the biggest coverup of contamination of food supply, both animal & human, didn't happen in the past few years with melamine from China. It happened in the early 70's in Michigan, when the flame retardant Polybrominated Biphenyls (PBB) was accidentally mixed into cattle feed in May 1973, which a lot people were never aware of. The first reported problems showed in a cattle in the fall of 1973. It took until late spring of 1974 before the state of Michigan did anything and by then it was way too little too late as so many farms were contaminated and we, the people of Michigan, had been consuming contaminated meat & milk for over a year. It took almost another year before the government took more serious action, nearly 2 full years after the incident happened. Finally in 1977 they passed a law to make the selling of contaminated food items illegal, but after 4 years of consuming a fat soluble poison over 95% of Michigander's 8-9 million residence had PBB in their bodies. 30,000 cattle had been destroyed, along with another 2 million other animals, and 1000+ tons of animal feed and human were destroyed.

What factors made this situation so bad?
~Michigan is an isolated state with its surrounding Great Lakes, which was good for the rest of the country in that particularly in the 1970's, a majority of meat & dairy products were consumed within the state. Some of course did get shipped to other states, but residence there would not be exposed to very much of it. This made it primarily a state problem, not a national one, and the state could not afford to do what was necessary.

~PBB, unlike most food contaminants, couldn't easily be cleaned away from the animal feed facilities where it was mixed & stored. This meant that even if your farm didn't buy the one type of feed directly contaminated with PBB, it could still get into your feed, contaminate your heard, and your barn & farm. It stayed in the buildings & the land- I know our neighbors heard was destroyed and for certain number of years they were not allowed to raise cattle, but could raise pigs.

~PBB is fat soluble so it was being passed on in both the meat and the milk by the cows. This in turn means that nursing mothers who had PBB in their body could also pass it on to their children.

~Stupidity of those in charge. One of the most ironic things I've read about the incident is that at one point the Rick Halbert, the farmer who Ron Howard's part was based on, feed the contaminated feed to mice or rats, which all died quickly. He was told of course they died, you feed them cattle feed, which wasn't meant to feed rodents.

~Bureaucracy....need I say more?

To this day, it still feels like there is a cover up going on. It is never mentioned, even in local Michigan news. In ways, we Michigander's became guinea pigs in major way.