Pangasius become a “catfish again”? Serious possibility for US media Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal in an editorial on Tuesday took aim at U.S. Department of Agriculture’s efforts to reclassify pangasius as a catfish so it might regulate the import of the fish, presumably to the benefit of domestic catfish growers, who appear largely unable to compete with the fish.

“The problem is that the pangasius is an entirely different species of fish. In an earlier bout of protectionism, Congress even passed a law making it illegal to call pangasius “catfish” for marketing purposes. Since that hasn’t deterred American consumers from buying pangasius, Washington is willing to call the Vietnamese fish a catfish again if that makes it easier to ban,” the editorial said.

“It would be funny if it weren’t so costly and probably illegal. On health-and-safety grounds, both the 2008 law and USDA’s moves to enforce it make little sense. Vietnamese pangasius, like all fish imports, already is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. There have been no reported safety problems with the Vietnamese imports. In contrast, USDA has no experience regulating fish despite its history overseeing meat, and catfish will be the only fish species under its regulatory purview,” said the editorial.

The Wall Street Journal, quoting the Government Accountability Office, said the USDA regulation of catfish is one federal program at “high risk” for “fraud, waste, abuse and mismanagement.

“The GAO quotes a USDA estimate that it will cost $30 million over two years to ramp up a special inspection regime for this single fish while FDA remains responsible for other seafood. It’s not clear from the language of the 2008 farm bill that the FDA would not still be responsible for catfish after the USDA takes over, raising the prospect that catfish could be regulated twice,” the editorial said.

The newspaper called on the Obama administration should stepin and prevent the regulatory change.

Source: Vietfish at

http://www.vietfish.org/20110223044147881p49c64/wall-street-journal-mocks-us-effort-to-reclassify-pangasius.htm

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