Life's too short to eat bad food - Me

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic - Arthur C. Clarke

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Buffalo News, Meet The United States Food and Nutrition Agency (or Department)

Back in Febrary, I posted a commentary on Nicholas Kristof's Op-Ed about changing the name (and and focus) of the Department of Agriculture to the Department of Food. The gist of the post was that a name change wasn't enough - a whole new agency is need to combine oversight of all food policy.

So I had to smile when the BuffNews dedicated a Sunday Editorial to just that idea. The only problem was that they too did not go far enough, focusing only on the issue of food safety. While this is at the forefront of the news these days, we need a new, holistic approach to food policy.

So, I decided to write a letter to the Editor.

I often suggest that I should write such a letter, and have done so on two or three occasions. But I have been gun-shy about the process since my first letter (the only one published) had been "edited" in a way that eliminated the point. So I went ahead and prepared a Reader's Digest Condensed version of the February Blog post and e-mail it off.

A day or two later a phone call came from the News - the were going to print my letter. It showed up in today's edition.

Here is the text:

While I am not a big fan of the creation of a new federal bureaucracy, the call to create a new agency to take over responsibility for inspecting and monitoring food safety from the U. S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration is a good idea. Let me suggest, however, that it is just not enough to create the comprehensive change our national food policies need.

This new agency should also be given authority over nutrition policy, now split between the USDA and the FDA; food advertising policy, now shared between the USDA, the FDA and the Federal Trade Commission; and those aspects of farm subsidies that have an impact on the previous three topics.

All that is needed to make this happen is a method to ensure that decisions made by the new agency/department are based on facts, not influence from Congress or any interest groups from any side of a food issue, along with quite a bit of long-absent political will.

I have little hope that this will happen. Yet my family and your families deserve, at minimum, better food and a better, safer food supply.

Scott Harris

East Amherst

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Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
- Arthur C. Clarke

Life's too short to eat bad food -