Friday, November 03, 2006

Vegemites are terrorists

According to various News Limited papers and websites, US Customs officials have banned the importation of vegemite from Australia to the USA. Evidently the reason given is that vegemite contains folate, which under US regulations can only be added to bread or cereal. Adding it to a spread used on bread is evidently a problem. If true (and with News Limited, you never know), then this has grave consequences for the US-Australia relationship.

First of all, why folate? The most well-known property of this substance is that it prevents neural tube defects in developing embryos. Are birth defects now a constitutional right? Wouldn’t a ban on harmful substances, like saturated fat or cane sugar, be more sensible? Or would those infringe on the right to be a fat slob?

Secondly, what about the free trade agreement? At no point during the FTA negotiations last year did anyone mention using FDA technicalities to block the exchange of culturally significant foodstuffs. This looks like protectionism, pure and simple.

Finally, imagine the consequences of the potential trade war that could erupt as a result. Australia could ban peanut butter, on the grounds that it is a potential allergen. It could forbid the import of Dr. Pepper, because that shit is nasty. And if the Australians wanted a truly disproportionate response, they could outlaw the baking of apple pie, as it has been correlated with dangerous levels of mindless militaristic jingoism*.

And that, my friends, would be a tragedy.

* I don’t know what foodstuffs promote thoughtful pacific jingoism, but anyone with a lead is welcome to comment.


Chris R said...

Maybe someone in the customs office just tasted the stuff...

I haven't heard anything about them banning Marmite imports from the UK (and believe me, if they had it would have been front page news), so at least the 'Special Relationship' is good for something!

ScienceWoman said...

I was gonna say that if they are banning vegemite but not marmite that it really would be an affront to Australia. But I have a hard time believing this one to be true.

ScienceWoman said...

And it doesn't appear to be true at all. Check out

C W Magee said...

Your rumor check does seem to suggest that commercial imports have been stopped.

I thought that the foodstuffs you mentioned promote mindless pacifistic multi-culturalism (It's, like, based on a Hindu tradition, but without any of the flavour and with the weird-ass squashes replaced by zucchini).