Wednesday, December 09, 2009

A food policy debate

The Economist debate this week addresses the proposition:
This house believes that governments should play a stronger role in guiding food and nutrition choices.
Kelly Brownell of Yale University is for the motion:
Three major food issues face the world. Local, national, and global governing authorities must take bold and innovative action to avoid catastrophic health consequences, political upheaval, and political and financial instability around the globe.
Melanie Leech of the Food and Drink Federation is opposed:
The food and drink industry shares society's concerns about the health of the nation, particularly rising obesity levels, and it is committed to playing a positive role in responding to this vital debate.

7 comments:

Derek said...

The fact that industry interests dictate the government policy, though, makes me wonder whether there is a good alternative in this debate.

Kelly said...

Exactly, industry interests dictate policy at all levels. The best we can hope for as a nation from our elected officials is that they encourage Americans to educate themselves about nutrition and health. Policy will not change unless it benefits the powers that be. An educated, well informed public is our only hope at turning the current tide of nutrition related health problems, and I am sad to say that I fear that is too much to hope for.

Revolution Eat said...

I agree with the above posts... there is no way that we can have sound policy by the government when industry has so much control.

Anonymous said...

Only if you can figure out how to prevent regulatory capture, the route to which is through congress and occurs because of their need of campaign contributions to finance their re-election. The primary goal of a politician is to get re-elected and the primary goal of large business is to invest money in such a way as to maximize return to shareholders. Campaign contributions are a good investment, providing about a $10 return to the industry for every dollar invested (if I recall correctly). Follow the money. Assignment to congressional committees is not random nor is it rotated. When an agency appears to be at the beck and call of an industry, the power is through their congressional oversight committees that write the legislation, allocate funding and call hearings. IMO one has to think very carefully becuase as such a change will likely have unintended consequences.

Anonymous said...

Congressional oversight
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congressional_oversight

Regulatory capture
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regulatory_capture

Recent campaign costs
http://www.cfinst.org/pr/prRelease.aspx?ReleaseID=215

Anonymous said...

Check out the December 13, 2009, Non Sequitur cartoon by Wiley
http://www.gocomics.com/nonsequitur/

Ashley Colpaart said...

I just saw this video from NYC Health Department called "Pouring on the Pounds."

What do we think about this? http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/cdp/cdp_pan.shtml

I would say, since governments are charged with footing the bill for health (ultimately), that they should have a role. If they aren't going to regulate the food industry's advertising, they are going to come out with campaigns that are equally compelling.

This is disgusting, but may very well be effective.