June 22, 2001

Death by Chocolate

National Post (Canada) editorial

Chocolate kills. Earlier this year, a flock of gulls feasting on some uneaten Valentine's Day chocolate dumped at a local landfill fell dead from the skies. The cause of death, announced this week by the provincial agriculture office in Abbotsford, B.C., was "chocolate toxicity." For many animals, the active ingredients in chocolate -- caffeine and theobromine -- can be lethal. The manager of the dump told The Vancouver Sun that chocolate should not even be mixed in with ordinary landfill garbage. In the interests of public safety, therefore, this newspaper feels duty-bound to call for an immediate and permanent ban on all chocolate products.

We take our cue for this drastic, but obviously necessary, move from the anti-pesticide lobby. Unlikely though it may seem, the campaign to eliminate pesticides from household use, led by the Council of Canadians and supported by a Parliamentary Committee report last year, actually has less basis in science or logic than our proposed chocolate ban. Recall that the committee, headed by Liberal MP Charles Caccia, was able to justify calls for sweeping bans and reductions on pesticides without the need for any proof that they are dangerous to humans. The mere fact that they kill living things was enough. "Pesticides are highly poisonous substances designed to kill living organisms and are thus potentially harmful to workers using them ... as well as consumers," Mr. Caccia wrote in his report. Well this certainly applies to chocolate. It is fatal not to tiny bugs and weeds, but to higher life forms such as birds and dogs. Chocolate contains sugar, too, which induces obesity and, therefore, an increased risk of life-threatening diseases such as diabetes.

The choice is clear: Chocolate must go. Watch this space for more health-related editorials in the future. Next week: Bananas: the yellow menace.

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