There is the story about a tourist browsing through the electronics market in China. At a store, the tourist was impressed with the collection of digital cameras which were all from brand “X”. The tourist inquired if the store carried cameras from brand “Y” as well. The vendor nodded and simply replaced the sticker of brand “X” with brand “Y’s” on the camera of tourist’s choice.
However, the business of fake products is not just limited to electronics. In countries such as China and India, many enterprising companies have taken to manufacturing “fake food” to serve the growing demands of the large population. Recently, a factory producing 4,000 to 5,000 liters of fake milk daily using ingredients such as detergent, refined oils, etc., was closed down in India. Additionally, a large percentage of milk in these countries is adulterated. The issue is not limited to milk. The lack of quality infrastructure especially in India ensures that a large percent of genuine food is wasted.
In 2008, the Chinese milk scandal impacted 300,000 babies of which 6 died and 54,000 were hospitalized. 10 years later, parents in China are still circumspect about instant milk formula. In 2007, a major Chinese company had received complains of kids developing kidney stones after consuming its products. The company took a relatively long time to even start investigating the issue.
The fake or substandard or counterfeit medicine/drug market is also booming in these parts of the world. Africa is considered as a key export market for many of these manufacturers. WHO estimates around 100,000 people are killed in Africa due to unintended use of such drugs. In many drug stores, it is easy to find medicines that are way past their expiry dates. Overall, it is estimated that around 1M people die every year globally because of fake drugs.
Ethics, values, and respect for others have been thrown out of the window by the perpetrators, who value human life at zero. At times, a handful of dollars can be enough for relevant authorities to look the other way. Where do we go if we cannot even expect to get genuine food and medicine?