As Michelle Obama pushes for bigger nutrition labels on food, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) is working behind the scenes to set new nutritional recommendations due out this fall.
Instead of proceeding objectively with their mandate to develop scientifically-based nutritional standards, the DGAC is engaging in politicized fear-mongering and agenda-driven science that will limit consumer choice. Perhaps it will better be known as the Dietary Guidelines Activist Committee.
The 15-member DGAC is packed with, and being influenced by, radical environmentalists and other professional activists looking to seize the opportunity to push their climate change, food security, and “food justice”—think left-wing “social justice”—philosophies. These alarmist but nebulous concepts are simply Trojan horses that will result in new food regulations and taxes that will limit consumer choice.
For example, Kate Clancy, a food systems consultant and Senior Fellow at the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, testified to the DGAC that climate change means that the recommendations should advocate vegetarianism.
Food activists want to promote vegetarianism because it's "better for the environment." (Source: Shutterstock.com)
A vegetarian diet, according to her, better addresses problems such as “drought, climate change, soil erosion, pesticides and antibiotics in water supplies.” She added, “after 30 years of waiting, the fact that this committee is addressing sustainability issues brings me a lot of pleasure.”
Dr. Miriam Nelson from the DGAC agrees with Clancy’s point of view, saying that Americans should eat less meat to limit their carbon footprint. Nelson is the founder of the “Strong Women Initiative,” which seeks to drive “social change by empowering women to be agents of change in the area of nutrition, physical activity, and obesity prevention.” The nutritional advice put forth to achieve this goal is to “let the planet be your guide.” And never mind that the EPA’s own data show that meat production is only responsible for about 2 percent of domestic greenhouse gas emissions.
Instead of focusing on nutrition, the DGAC is focusing on climate change. But should climate change considerations affect our nutrition guidelines? If the DGAC decides not to recommend the favorite American staple, beef, because cows may cause climate change, then logic holds it must also consider not recommending bananas because many scientists say there will be an imminent shortage due to threat by parasites. (Real parasites, not the ones taking your money to push vegetarianism.)
In other words, you open a can of worms when you begin considering nutritional recommendations for reasons that have nothing to do with nutrition.
(AP Photo/Barry Gutierrez)
Another subject the committee is spending a lot of time on is “food security” – a fear-mongering phrase that implies we are one wrong policy move away from dealing with Soviet-style grocery stores.
According to Clancy, “In terms of keeping a broader idea of food security in your minds it would be perilous… for this committee or anybody else to not be taking climate change into account in any of the deliberations.” Scary.
DGAC committee member Rafael Perez-Escamilla also warns about food security. He is involved in the “food justice movement” that seeks to engage “public opinion and civic engagement in food security issues… to shape much healthier, fairer food systems from the local to the global level.” The nutritional guidelines seem like a perfect opportunity to shape such food systems.
The DGAC is not always so circumspect in its intentions. Vice-chair Alice Lichtenstein has praised former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s soda ban and Mexico’s soda and junk food tax. She also portrayed Ronald McDonald being beheaded as a “potential solution” to Americans’ health problems. (We think she was joking, but still.) She proudly revealed that she is too embarrassed to buy fast-food, or in her words, a “Great Biggie” at Wendy’s. Apparently, because she doesn’t like fast food, she believes that none of us should have it.
Rather than seriously approach the objective task of developing nutrition guidelines, the DGAC is using the auspice of climate-change, food security, and food justice as alarmism that will result in limiting consumer choice. If you are going to try to limit our beef consumption, it better be for objective reasons, not nebulous concepts – something you’d expect a body of 15 top scientists to understand.
Will Coggin is a senior research analyst at the Center for Consumer Freedom.
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