The Politics of Poverty

Ideas and analysis from Oxfam America's policy experts

Can crossing headlines avert disaster?

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Headline: Kenya develops unique Bio-Ethanol Gel Biofuel for Kitchen Use,: “resulting in a viscous yellow liquid that burns slowly with a high heat output…” Meanwhile, in the USA: Headline: Feds announce recall of more ethanol fuel gel products: “The recall was made due to serious risks of flash fire and burns when consumers add pourable […]

Headline: Kenya develops unique Bio-Ethanol Gel Biofuel for Kitchen Use,: “resulting in a viscous yellow liquid that burns slowly with a high heat output…”

Meanwhile, in the USA:

Headline: Feds announce recall of more ethanol fuel gel products: “The recall was made due to serious risks of flash fire and burns when consumers add pourable gel to an already-burning fire pot, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission… is aware of 65 incidents resulting in two deaths and 34 victims who were hospitalized with second degree burns of the face, chest, hands, arms or legs.”

So…Kenya develops a bio-ethanol gel just as ethanol fuel gel products are being taken off the shelves in the US because they are not safe.

Is there any chance that there’s a consumer protection agency in Kenya that could catch this potential risk?

A jatropha plantation in Mozambique where crops are used to produce biofuels.  Photo by Brett Eloff/Oxfam America.
A jatropha plantation in Mozambique where crops are used to produce biofuels. Photo by Brett Eloff/Oxfam America.

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  1.  avatarLtP

    Could it simply be the Americans who were burnt weren’t as careful as the Kenyans in using a flammable liquid? This wouldn’t be the first incident of negligent Americans injuring themselves (and others) through carelessness. Witness the elderly woman who was scalded when her McDonald’s coffee spilled on her.

    I spoke to her attorney who admitted her nephew (driving the car) had caused the car to jerk suddenly while she had the cup on the dash – not in a cup holder. When I asked why pursue McDonalds, when the nephew was clearly at-fault the attorney replied “She was severely burned requiring costly medical care and McDonalds has deeper pockets”.

    So, it seems yet another case supporting the argument for a National Health Service in the USA – but one which mandates personal responsibility of all participants.

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