In the United States, we have all sorts of
regulatory mechanisms in place to make sure that the food you consumer on a daily basis
or even on an irregular basis is really safe and of value.
One of the things that agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency or the United
States Department of Agriculture do is they conduct safety of say pesticide residues and
say, “When do they represent a risk?” Ultimately, anything that is in our environment
can represent a risk. You can drink too much water and it can represent a risk.
So, once you have this apparent number, then you start putting on orders of magnitude of
safety. You want to protect people who are particularly vulnerable, such as a young child
or a pregnant woman. You want to take into account the possibility
that someone’s genetic background might make them more sensitive to some agents than the
person that may be standing next to them. These orders of magnitude of safety are truly
tremendous, so what’s typically on the order of a hundred to a thousand fold when we say
there might represent a risk but we’re going to make sure we’re gonna protect against this
hypothetical risk. So frankly many folks say we have too many
orders of magnitude. I’m not convinced of that. I think we should be overzealous at
times in making sure that what we eat is indeed safe.