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Candidate calls baby formula maker ‘guilty of corporate manslaughter’

A Democratic party candidate for the Missouri U.S. Senate nomination  says the baby formula industry is “run by a corporate cartel” and the people in charge of the recent national shortage should be in jail.

The text of an op-ed written by candidate Lucas Kunce has been released to the media by his campaign.

“If we had a real functioning market, we wouldn’t be in this situation,” Kunce writes. “But in America, industry lobbyists and government bureaucrats have put just a handful of giant corporations in control of the price and supply of formula.”

Kunce recalls that in October 2021, a whistleblower from Abbott’s Sturgis, Michigan, plant sent the FDA a 34-page document outlining potential concerns, including contamination and sanitary issues.

“The FDA sat on the allegations until Jan. 31  before starting an investigation, ” he writes. “Three months. By then, the bureaucrats were too late. Two babies who drank the contaminated formula had already died and more were hospitalized.”

Kunce says after the FDA warned parents, Abbott voluntarily recalled formula, which he says gutted the baby formula supply across the country.

Kunce says what he calls the “baby formula cartel” should be broken up.

“The Department of Justice needs to actually enforce the Sherman Antitrust Act and break up the baby formula cartel so that it’s a functioning market, not just a few giant companies,” he writes.  “Political elites won’t act because Abbott Nutrition’s corporate PAC has spent over $700,000 spent in campaign donations to Democrats and Republicans (nearly evenly split) in the last election. A classic American tale — bought-off politicians keeping their donors happy.

“Next, we prosecute everyone at Abbott who helped hide the unsanitary plant conditions from the FDA. They killed two babies.

“The Department of Justice must conduct a federal investigation, working with the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan, into the whistleblower’s allegations, and real justice must be served — those found responsible should be prosecuted and jailed. This is corporate manslaughter.

“Finally, we need to go after the FDA for failing to protect us. It is clear that FDA did not act with the urgency demanded by a threat to our babies’ food supply, and there must be accountability both for the individuals who dragged their feet while babies’ lives were at risk and for the system that let this happen. Fire anyone asleep at the FDA wheel. Redesign inspection processes to swiftly respond to real-world threats to food safety.”

The op-ed was printed in The Joplin Globe.

On the opposite side of the aisle, the Republican side of the Senate race in Missouri is hotly contested with former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, Rep. Vicky Hartzler and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt leading the pack in the campaign for the nomination.

Missouri 7th District Congressman Billy Long is in 4th place.

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