Friday, November 14, 2014

Lobby group calls for food policy

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has started a petition drive urging United States President Barack Obama to issue an executive order establishing a national food policy.

The UCS is more a collection of activists critical of modern agriculture and food-company practices than an organization of scientists.

“The food system and the diet it’s created have caused incalculable damage to the health of our people and our land, water and air,” Ricardo Salvador, director of UCS’ food and environment program, wrote in an opinion piece published in the Washington Post to solicit support for the petition.

The article is co-written by New York Times food writer Mark Bittman; Michael Pollan, author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”; and human rights law professor Olivier De Schutter.

A national food policy, they write, should invest resources to guarantee that:

* All Americans have access to healthful food.

* Farm policies are designed to support public health and environmental objectives.

* The food supply is free of toxic bacteria, chemicals and drugs.

* Food production and marketing are done transparently.

* The food industry pays a fair wage to employees.

* Food marketing to children promotes the habit of eating real food.

* Animals are treated with compassion and attention to their well-being.

* The food system’s carbon footprint is reduced and the amount of carbon sequestered on farmland is increased.

* The food system is resilient to the effects of climate change.

The UCS, in its online appeal, asks Americans to sign a petition that states: “It’s time for a major shift: We need a comprehensive policy solution that will nourish consumers, expand opportunities for farmers, and protect workers, natural resources, and the environment from exploitation.” 

There have been Canadian calls for a comprehensive food policy, but so far no leadership from the federal or any provincial government.