After writing last weeks article, Real Milk May Become Extinct: http://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2013/04/10/real-milk-may-become-extinct-as-it-competes-with-sugary-sports-drinks/ , I have to talk about the obvious, food politics.
Stephanie Strom is a reporter who reports it as she sees it. She has written an article in the N.Y. Times, “Food Politics Creates Rift in Panel on Labeling” on an extremely important topic that infests our world. It pulls back the curtain and exposes the politics plaguing our food supply and the opinions of “nutrition experts”, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/11/business/a-dismissal-raises-questions-about-objectivity-on-food-policy.html?_r=0.
The main theme of the article: Conflict of Interest; companies using genetically engineered ingredients (GEI/GMO) give monetary funds to The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (an organization of 74,000 nutrition professionals, thought leaders and key opinion leaders who guide consumers to make better food selections).
The main issues: The Academy’s conflict of interest policy for selecting committee members who are responsible for making the organizations position on nutrition and health and food topics is: “Conflict of interest will not eliminate a candidate from an eligible appointment”; And it’s decision to remove a registered dietitian from the panel who questioned the fact that 3 of the 7 committee members are affiliated with companies whose income is GMO based; And that the Academy decided to have the position paper written “before the work group finished its review of the scientific materials”. The dietitian who was removed asked, “Why have a work group if its conclusions are not going to be the basis for the position paper?”
The importance of the issue: Laws decide the fate of whether foods or genetically modified ingredients will display labels that identify them as such. Consumers will either be able to read a label to identify GMO foods or will not have that option. In a democratic society, I believe it is a consumers right to have the raw data and come to personal conclusions instead of reading a position paper that is crafted by an organization that has financial interest in a certain vote outcome.
The problem: The Academy is a highly regarded “reputable” organization. Many nutrition professionals and consumers do not question the advice provided. Media and other information centers use “reputable” governmental and medical organizations for hard science and objectivity.
Unfortunately, this is an issue that is rampant throughout every industry (education, research, medicine, nutritional supplements…) and is deep-rooted in every aspect of life. Labels should be required on foods made with genetically engineered ingredients. Consumers want to know and are capable of making personal choices. It seems the decisions made by The Academy are not as objective as one might hope. The position in support of GMO seems to seed the relationship it already has with Monsanto.
I respect the dietitian who questioned “the establishment” and hope this leads to increased scrutiny for all organizations funded by corporations that may have a political conflict of interest.
Consumers need to know that behind the scenes charades go on across the board in every industry. Big industry has the big bucks and science needs funding. Money talks loudly in these situations. We all need to become better educated consumers.
Here are 2 more blogs written on this issue, you may find interesting: