as reported in today's NYTimes:
For years, producers of animal feed all over China have secretly supplemented their feed with the substance, called melamine, a cheap additive that looks like protein in tests, even though it does not provide any nutritional benefits, according to melamine scrap traders and agricultural workers ...well, here is melamine (from Acta Cryst., 2005, E61:o222-o224), some of it's uses include manufacturing heat-resistant handles for pots (and toasters!), cutlery, dishes and flooring.
a friend reminded me of the 'olden' days, when unethical feedstuff purveyors would use urea to increase the apparent protein content of their product.
so; what is lethal about melamine? it's hard to say. toxicological reports are equivocal. it is also a distinct possibility that the melamine added to the feed was, itself, contaminated. perhaps by formaldehyde, or other compounds used in its synthesis. in addition, since much of the melamine came from scrap traders, perhaps there was contamination in the recovery/grinding process.
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