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    Saturday, March 24, 2007

    The Case of the Poisoned Pet Food: It appears to be grain contaminated by rat poison. This is isn't the first time in history that grain contaminated by rat poison has killed animals. In the early twentieth century, spoiled sweet clover caused a fatal illness in cattle. The cause was dicumarol, a natural product of sweet clover spoilage which later became the rat poison warfarin and even later the human medicine Coumadin. This time, the culprit is aminopterin, a synthetic derivative of a naturally occurring substance called pterins, which give butterfly wings their color. The speculation is that it was in wheat gluten purchased from China. But how did it get there?

    Bob Rosenberg, senior vice president of government affairs for the National Pest Management Association, said it would be unusual for the wheat to be tainted.

    "It would make no sense to spray a crop itself with rodenticide," Rosenberg said, adding that grain shippers typically put bait stations around the perimeter of their storage facilities.

    Aminopterin is no longer marketed as a cancer drug, but is still used in research, said Andre Rosowsky, a chemist with the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

    Rosowsky speculated that the substance would not show up in pet food "unless somebody put it there."

    Or maybe it got there accidentally. here's a link that describes the use of aminopterin to produce an antibody assay to test the purity of cereals. It would be highly doubtful that a test for purity would contaminate a whole load of wheat gluten. But what if the wheat gluten was the byproduct of research labs that used aminopterin? The two words certainly appear together frequently in google-gathered research papers. It wouldn't be too much of a stretch to imagine an ambitious entrepeneur who found a way to make good money by selling discarded wheat gluten from research laboratories for pet food, would it?

    UPDATE: Investigators now say the culprit is melamine, a synthetic chemical made from urea which is a byproduct of protein metabolism. Melamine is what makes Magic Erasers possible. Not much seems to be known about its toxicity, however.

    Here's a link to recalled pet food information.

    posted by Sydney on 3/24/2007 01:26:00 PM 2 comments


    Or maybe it was sprayed on by Chinese farmers and their "irrational" pest control techniques.

    Hey, not my opinion. That's from the Chinese government.

    By Blogger Steve Janke, at 12:09 PM  

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    By Blogger aqoona, at 4:47 PM  

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