The USDA is embarrassingly under beef's power, and other evidence special interest groups have influence over our government
Happy Friday. It’s been a very long, long week for me, and some of the news items I’ve read have made it seem even longer. Since misery loves company, I thought I’d share some of the more disheartening food news I’ve come across this week. Sorry if it brings you down. Read it quickly, think it through, and then move on to more pleasant weekend activities.
Earlier this week, the USDA caved into the beef industry in a public and embarrassing way. According to the New York Times, here’s what happened. An interoffice newsletter to USDA employees that was posted on the agency's website encouraged workers to participate in Meatless Mondays in the cafeteria and explained how the production of beef affects the environment. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association made it know that it was offended by this “slap in the face.” The USDA took down the interoffice memo and issued this very public tweet.
The Center for Food Safety is warning about what’s being called “The Monsanto Rider” to the Farm Bill. If passed, “these riders would undermine the few laws that are currently in place to protect farmers’ rights, our health and our environment from the many adverse impacts of GE crops.” They also point readers to how they can contact their representatives about this.
Mark Bittman has given up milk, and he says his health has improved. In his latest Opinionator Column, he calls the Department of Agriculture to task for encouraging the production of milk because it can be easily produced, not because it’s in the best interest of the greatest number of Americans. The health problems that milk can cause, he says, keep the pharmaceutical companies making profits off of drugs they sell to ease the problems.
Finally, I’ll end on a bit of a more positive note. Robyn O’Brien writes on Huffington Post that since 1976, 80,000 chemicals have been used in our everyday products but only 200 of them have been tested for safety. This week the Senate’s Committee on Environment and Public Works passed the Safe Chemicals Act. It’s not law yet, but if it gets passed, it would require chemical makers to demonstrate the safety of their products. Of course, the chemical industry is opposing this act, so there will be an uphill battle if it does get made into a law.
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