Archive for May, 2011
Health Freedom and the Food Supply
The desire for Americans and our global neighbors to maintain liberty has never been stronger than it is as we enter the Spring of 2011. The focus on healthfreedom is a cornerstone of that liberty. What happens in the agricultural community directly affects consumers’ access to quality dietary supplements as dietary supplements are foods.
Budget Battle: Washington is embroiled in budget battles that will go on for months. The hard truth that we as a nation are grappling with is that for every dollar being spent by the United States Government, 45 cents of it is borrowed. This is called deficit spending. There are only two ways to solve deficit spending – to decrease spending or to increase income. Increasing the income of the United States means raising taxes, and the 50% of Americans who pay taxes in this country are not okay with that. We’ve seen the size of government grow dramatically, with more than 100,000 federal jobs created and massive government programs like health care reform be enacted into law. All of the economic experts and most Americans understand this is not sustainable.
Families around the world are feeling the crushing weight of increased food and fuel prices. In the United States, food prices have gone up about 8 %. In North Africa and Middle East, countries such as Syria, Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, Jordan, and Libya have seen food prices skyrocket, more than 25% in under a year. It is a contributing factor to the instability of these countries. Food shortages are not uncommon. Just a few years ago, the Codex Alimentarius instructed its member countries to pass food control legislation (which in the US called food safety) and something. Increased regulations contribute to increase pricing as companies always pass the additional costs on to the consumer.
Health Freedom Cannot Fall by the Wayside: Health freedom is not just a battle to protect access to dietary supplements. The right to maintain control of your own decision making in health including in the foods you purchase is as key to liberty as freedom of speech. The founders of this great nation wrote of the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Nutritional liberty including informed consent through proper labeling and maintaining an active free market with expanded choices are essential.
Food Safety Battle Continues: During the last few years as the federal government has sought to expand its regulatory powers for the food supply, the USDA has announced it will in essence deregulate certain GM products. The announcement in January that the USDA will allow the unrestricted commercial cultivation of GM alfalfa sees has many in Congress and the public outraged. The environmental impact statement recently released is inadequate. Alfalfa is the 4th largest crop planted in the United States and the hay it produces is used to feed cattle and horses.
American consumers and farmers like our global neighbors have rejected the industrial push for genetically modified (GM or GMO) seeds and continue to fight tough battles to keep these seeds away from agricultural communities, especially organic farms. Everyone desires clear and accurate labeling on foods, including GM foods including meats from animals fed GM grains. The public has also rejected the concept of mandatory irradiation of their foods, including organic foods (even herbs). There is a broad consensus among the public that if GM foods are going to enter the market place, and if foods are irradiated, that they ought to be truthfully labeled. The consumer should be accurately informed and be given the liberty to make their own choices.
Attempts at one size fits all regulation in agriculture, puts many small, local, and specialty farms at risk for elimination. Americans want raw foods including herbs to truly be raw. In addition to the irradiation battle farmers have been challenged with, now forced pasteurization is being forced upon more industries than just the dairy industry. Most consumers do not realize that when they pay extra for eggs that are organic, when there is an ink stamp on the egg, it means the eggs were heated up.
Keep in mind, if an organic herb farmer is forced to compromise their techniques through onerous government regulations, then the dietary supplements that are made from those herbs are compromised as well. At every turn, government gives the appearance of ignoring the desires of the public as it relates to protecting organic and promoting techniques and products the public opposes.
Organic Foods and Farms
The Organic Trade Association (OTA) recently published statements regarding the growth of the industry.
Organic food industry continues to see growth. Gary Lucier, economist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research, said that recent estimates of the fresh produce industry by Roberta Cook, economist at the University of California-Davis, puts consumer value of fresh fruits and vegetables at close to $113 billion. Lucier said the OTA’s $9.79 billion estimate of the consumer value of organic fresh produce doesn’t seem too out of line compared to Cook’s estimate, representing about 8% of the total fresh produce consumer value. “It is not inconceivable to me that you would have 8% to 10% of the total sales value as organic,” he said.
An OTA survey found:
· 78% of organic farms plan to maintain or increase organic production levels in the next five years.
· Roughly 40% of organic operations added jobs in 2010
· 96% of operations plan to maintain or increase employment opportunities in 2011.
The 2010 growth range of organic fresh produce of better than 10% was still less than half what it was in the two or three years before the recession. Rising gas prices will affect the price of foods, but consumers remain interested.
Genetically Modified Foods
Genetically modified (GM) or engineered foods affect the entire food supply including dietary supplements. The risks are not fully understood. Consumers and farmers alike oppose their broad adoption. During the last few years as the federal government has sought to expand its regulatory powers for the food supply, the USDA has announced it will in essence deregulate certain GM products. The announcement in January that the USDA will allow the unrestricted commercial cultivation of GM alfalfa sees has many in Congress and the public outraged. The environmental impact statement recently released is inadequate. Alfalfa is the 4th largest crop planted in the United States and alfalfa hay is used to feed dairy cattle and horses.
GM Alfalfa – the battle rages on: One of the most pressing issues that the USDA has not resolved for GM foods is product drift. Organic farmers say their crops and their livelihoods can be damaged by pollen drifting from neighboring fields. Crops cannot qualify as organic, and the premiums often accompany the designation, if they contain GM material. The National Organic Coalition says all GM crops should be regulated and there should be a ban on GM corn, sugar beets, alfalfa and canola and other GM crops “too promiscuous to prevent GM contamination.”
In March farmers and a number of consumer groups filed a lawsuit against the USDA stating the approval of the unrestricted planting of GM alfalfa seeds is unlawful because it will, according to their own data lead to a dramatic increase in the use of toxic herbicides. “USDA data show that 93% of all the alfalfa planted by farmers in the U.S. is grown without the use of any herbicides. With the full deregulation of GE alfalfa, USDA estimates that up to 23 million more pounds of toxic herbicides will be released into the environment each year.”
Genetically Engineered Salmon: A genetically engineered salmon is likely to be sold in the United States in the near future. This salmon has higher hormone rates in than wild salmon and the risk to humans is not fully understood. Unless the FDA changes its current policies, the industry would be allowed to market these salmon without any notification on the label that it is GE salmon. This labeling issue is at the core of consumers’ concerns.
H.R. 521 and S. 2230 introduced by Congressman Don Young of Alaska and Senator Mark Begich to prevent the FDA from approving genetically engineered fish.
These same legislators introduced H.R. 520 and S. 229 to “deem a food to be misbranded if it contains genetically-engineered fish unless the food bears a label stating that it contains genetically-engineered fish.”
There are only a few sponsors of these bills to date. These bills deserve a grass roots push for support, otherwise they will languish.