Last week, an expert had suggested that the wheat used in the contaminated pet food might have been intentionally adulterated, and melamine added to improve the protein levels recorded by NIR, thus ensuring a higher price. Melamine polymer isn't toxic but monomer is. A post on a blog called China Matters suggests, instead, that the source was melamine-contaminated process water from a fertilizer plant. For more, read on. (The author makes a compelling case that adding melamine intentionally would not have been a cost effective way for a criminal to boost recorded protein levels, since wheat gluten itself is so inexpensive). Either way, it's a troubling picture; if it's due to water quality issues, such problems are likely endangering the health of China's population as well as consumers of its exports. That explanation is definitely preferable to the alternative, though. The situation has brought out a lot of political hostility, with some U.S. bloggers asking "why are we importing wheat gluten from China when they're taking our jobs." China Matters balances the score by citing news reports on pet owners, especially the Canadian woman who sampled Iams for weeks to convince her finicky cat to try it, and ended up in the hospital. (Anyone who hasn't loved a pet just wouldn't understand, although we North Americans probably do get a bit carried away).