Guest post by Michelle Ward, MS*
Government and big business as well as global and national politics all affect our food choices and not always for the better. Marian Nestle, PHD in Eat Drink Vote: An Illustrated Guide to Food Politics explains, “Because of their enormous financial and political resources, corporations and the government agencies that regulate them have an enormous influence over our food choices and the information we receive about them. With their huge advertising budgets and conspicuous presence in schools, entertainment media, and civic life, today’s giant food companies have had an easy time ingraining their products into our culture and transforming our way of eating – usually in an unhealthy direction. At the same time, the government agencies charged with regulating the food industry have often been more concerned with safeguarding corporate financial interests than protecting the public health. The US Department of Agriculture, for example, is obliged to serve as a booster of the meat and dairy industries while also providing the public with sound nutrition guidelines – a clear conflict of interest.”
When I began to study nutrition in the late 1990s, I looked behind the curtain and saw how the government, the pharmaceutical, chemical and food industries were all ‘in bed’ together. As I researched, I became disheartened about what I had uncovered and a bit angry with myself for being naïve enough to believe that the government’s first priority was to protect me and that as an American citizen I was to trust everything they said. My husband discounted my findings about the dangers of aspartame as an example and proclaimed, “Why would the government say something was safe to eat if it’s not? You’re such a conspiracy theorist!” He and I laugh about it now because science has proven over and over again that many of the things that the government has labeled as GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe) are often not ‘safe’. Some are downright dangerous for human consumption. This begs the question why would the government allow unsafe foods, chemicals and medicines to permeate the lives of Americans and spread around the globe? I have seen through the years that it all comes down to desire for money, power and influence.
That may seem overly simplified, but unfortunately, there is plenty of evidence to back up this theory. In her excellent book, “The Unhealthy Truth: One Mother’s Shocking Investigation into the Dangers of America’s Food Supply– and What Every Family Can Do to Protect Itself”, Robyn O’Brien explores the dangers of our food supply and how government and big business shirk responsibility for assuring the safety of American citizens. Dr. Henry Miller, in charge of FDA biotech stated “U.S. agencies have done exactly what big agribusiness has asked them to do and told them to do” suggesting that the government has wiped it’s hands of any responsibility to make sure our food supply is safe. The FDA’s policy actually states, “Ultimately, it is the food producer who is responsible for assuring safety.” So, in essence, the corporations are expected to police themselves, REALLY? WHY would the government allow this to happen? One factor is that several administrations have rolled back regulations to benefit the industries that lobby them intensely.
What about testing and science? A corporation introducing a product into the market is solely responsible to prove its safety. There are profits, patents, stock options, bonuses and other big money dependent upon research going the way the corporations want it to. Since the scientists conducting the research are funded by corporations who have a financial stake in the study outcome, data can be manipulated to show safety. Money corrupts and even legislators and regulators have been given incentives with money, board positions, stock options and future jobs to influence laws in favor of corporate interests.
Although the FDA’s website states, “All food additives are carefully regulated by federal authorities and various international organizations to ensure that foods are safe to eat and are accurately labeled”, this is far from the truth. In Pandora’s Lunchbox: How Processed Food Took Over the American Meal, Melanie Warner points out that the GRAS Rule was originally created as “an escape hatch for the relatively small number of commonsense things that didn’t need an arduous approval process, such as spices, vinegar and salt.”
However, companies took advantage of this ‘voluntary’ GRAS loop hole allowing them to assess the safety of their own ingredients and cumulatively have put thousands of additives which have never been tested for safety into the food supply. As a consumer this may seem an insurmountable challenge. However, manufacturers ultimately respond to what consumers will pay for. That is why it is so important to continue asking questions and seeking the truth to expose the dangers. If we give up, the consequences for future generations could be dire.
* Michelle Ward is a Certified Holistic Health Coach who believes in bio-individuality and evaluates each client’s specific nutrition, movement, stress, sleep, hydration and mindset in order to create a program that is unique and sustainable. To schedule consultation, visit www.TheMichelleWard.com or email her at [email protected] At one time she was offering the first consultation at no charge for our listeners. Wouldn’t hurt to ask.