Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Economic fraud is as old as human civilization and only a very few can avoid the temptation for cheating to make a fast buck as long history of mankind has repeatedly demonstrated. If quality is compromised by the manufacturing industry time and again, it is only to safeguard or increase the margins of profit. There is no country on this blessed earth which is an exception to this ground reality. All checks and measures put in place from time to time can only check such practices but cannot eradicate the same. It is the general perception that such economic fraud is more deep rooted in developing countries compared to that, noticed in rich countries. Inadequate enforcement personnel, underdeveloped infrastructure for quality checking and wide scale corruption seem to be the major reasons for economic frauds that take place in many poor countries of the world. Look at a rich country like the US where consumers are defrauded in spite of the stringent enforcement system that seems to be unable to restrain fraudsters perpetuating their designs with impunity.

"In a way, California certified farmers markets are a victim of their own success, since their numbers have roughly doubled over the last decade, to more than 700, while the numbers of authentic farmers to meet this demand — and of agricultural inspectors to enforce market regulations — have not increased proportionally. Farmers market customers are willing to pay top dollar for produce they believe to be local, fresh, organic or not sprayed with pesticides. Industrially grown produce, raised with industrial efficiencies of scale, is comparatively cheap, tempting vendors to buy from neighbors, packinghouses and wholesale sources on the sly. This violates state farmers market rules, but allows them to obtain a profitable, more consistent supply. County and state inspectors (along with managers) are responsible for enforcing market rules against cheating, but they have limited personnel and resources. Some county agricultural authorities view peddling as a victimless violation and rarely fine or suspend from markets local farmers, with whom they may be friendly. But cheating is not a victimless violation. Customers are defrauded, duped into paying high prices for commercial-grade produce. Honest growers often can't compete with cheaters and withdraw from markets. The core attraction of farmers markets — real farmers selling directly to consumers — is in danger of slipping away. To retain public confidence, farmers and managers have proposed many ideas, including these, as the first, most urgent steps to address this concern"

How can one arrest this trend of crass greediness is a worrisome factor that concerns many countries. The above instance of passing on mass produced and industrially processed perishables as locally grown food is well proved but legally it will be difficult to take action due to practical reasons. Such instances are bound to increase in the coming years because of the current obsession for organic foods and locavore movement taking roots in many communities due to fear of unsafe foods from mass produced and centralized manufacturing facilities. Is punishment a severe deterrent against consumer frauds? Obviously the answer seems to be a resounding no if what has been happening in China is any indication. The Melamine adulteration of milk affecting the health of thousands of innocent children adversely, which captured world-wide attention last year, should not have happened considering the harsh retribution system prevalent there under the authoritarian regime that controls the destiny of that country. Even after executing a couple of executives for the crime in response to the scandal, manufacture of sub-quality and adulterated food continues unabated, the most recent incidence being antibiotic tainted honey.


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