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InnoCentive Challenges: Chemistry

Monday, 10 November 2008

MELAMINE-New global slant- Materials, Substances and Poisons

This can only be considered a materials chemistry subject by some small stretch of the imagination.

The fact that a young blogger from the Philippines posted on melamine "in eggs" and the reported efforts by the Chinese officials to "erradicate all use of Melamine in the foodstock chain? " motivated me as a concerned scientist to speak-up on such themes. I found the global repercussions of this encouraging in terms of global health and safety.

Hopefully the "Melamine Case" may encourage all concerned chemists, scientists, experts in general, to take-up such worthy causes as fighting commercial abuse of science and chemistry, where ever they occur and so up-hold the values many of us share in choosing scientifically based careers.

I shall try not bore readers too much with the subject, which by now must have almost as many links on the web as Barack Obama, but not quite, perhaps unfortunately for this concerns human life right now?

As a chemist I ran my rapid Google search key words: Melamine Chemical Formula.

This turned up two noteworthy sites. 

The first in the list was Wikipedia which gives a very good encyclopedic rendering of the many melimine based materials, chemical compounds or substances and the poisonous effects with many excellent references to check and substantiate for the most sceptical.
images from Wikipedia

The question I asked myself was "Why in hell would anyone wish to use melamine - better known as a composant of glue - in food" The answer is fairly simple quoting from Wikipedia:

"Surplus melamine has been a popular adulterant for feedstock and baby formula in mainland China for several years now, because it can make diluted or poor quality material appear to be higher in protein content by elevating the total nitrogen content detected by some simple protein tests."

I shall not delve into this in any depth but one may pursue the questioning as to what National actions are taken following well published recommendations from say the USA's FDA-Food & Drug Administration, the European Union and of course from The WHO-World Health Organisation?

A well documented and popular account of melanine, the melamine scandal and follow-up measures is a cause which has being taken under the wing by D. Bradley in his well ranked blog Sciencebase.

Good luck David, I trust all the chemistry community will take heed and time for action in their daily duties and concerns.

It could well be that bloggers may have an ever increasing useful role to play in global affairs.

Bloggers can perhaps be more out-spoken than International Organisations who must respect rules of diplomacy and perhaps are major targets for powerful lobbying.


-Young concerned blogger from the Philippines posts on Melamine

-Melamine - Wikipedia

-Melamine - Sciencebase

-More concerns from the same Young blogger from the Philippines
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