The American Council on Science and Health recently released a report titled Food, the Politics of Science: Why Politicians Ignore Science and Promote Consumerism.
The report concluded that politicians in both parties have been “unleashing the power of the food industry” in order to promote consumerism and promote their own political agendas.
“In our view, there is a troubling trend that has grown up around food,” the report stated.
“This trend is driven by a growing power structure in Washington, DC, and the influence of corporate interests in the media, entertainment, and political spheres.”
The report went on to highlight some of the ways in which this power structure has been used to push “a food-centric agenda.”
In particular, the report highlighted how politicians have been using food to push for policies that “help their constituents eat more.”
For example, the Food and Drug Administration has been using the Food Pyramid as a tool to promote the notion that obesity is a health problem and that people should be eating more healthy food.
“The Food Pyramid, which was developed in the 1980s and now includes the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine and the American Medical Association, has been the subject of much debate,” the CRS report stated, “but the reality is that it is just one part of a much broader food agenda that has been driven by the food companies and their lobbyists.”
This agenda has led to “widespread and widespread” misinformation about the role of nutrition in preventing or treating disease, and it has “led to a failure of government to do its job of educating the public and policymakers about the importance of nutrition,” the organization concluded.
“The food industry’s influence in politics is clear.”
According to the report, politicians have used “a handful of policy initiatives” to promote food as a means of “increasing consumer demand for products” and “to influence public policy.”
“For example, in 2013, the House passed legislation that would require retailers to include calorie counts on packages and menus.
The legislation was opposed by consumer advocates and many health advocates.
The bill, however, was later amended to include nutrition information on menus and on the back of packages.”
Similarly, lawmakers in Congress have also been using a variety of other strategies to push the notion of food as part of their political agenda.
For example in 2016, members of the House Agriculture Committee used the Food Freedom Act to “repeal the labeling requirements of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCPA) that were enacted in 2009.”
The bill was ultimately defeated in the House.
According the report the political influence of the “food industry” is even stronger than that of the tobacco industry.
The CRS explained: “A 2015 report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service found that the lobbying and political donations from the food and beverage industry totaled $1.6 billion in the 2016 election cycle.”
While food lobbyists may be the biggest force behind the push to push a food-focused agenda, the study noted that the food sector also plays a significant role in pushing politicians to make policies that benefit their own agendas.
For example: “The tobacco industry and the medical marijuana industry are major campaign contributors to candidates, and these industries have strong incentives to influence government policy and politicians,” the study concluded.
It is also worth noting that food manufacturers, the food industries and the food lobby are all deeply involved in politics.
According to an analysis by the University of Virginia’s Center for Governmental Studies, “The lobbying activities of the major food companies, including Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Kraft, Nestle, Kellogg, and others, totaled more than $6.4 million in the U of Va.’s 2014 election cycle.
These industries spent an additional $3.7 million, according to a separate analysis by The Center for Responsive Politics.”
Additionally, the research found that “food and beverage companies spent nearly $3 million on federal political activities during the 2014 midterm elections.”
So, if food and beverages are “major political donors,” what do they actually do for our health?
Food companies have “spent billions on lobbying efforts over the past three decades,” according to the CVS report.
Moreover, the CPS study noted, “Since 2002, food industry contributions to congressional campaigns have doubled to $15.7 billion, and food industry lobbying expenditures have increased from $2.3 million to $7.7 [million].”
However, the issue of food and water, which is a topic of considerable debate, has not received the attention it deserves.
The CRS noted that “a study by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) found that only 2% of all food-related political expenditures were devoted to water, and that nearly one in three of these expenditures were directed to ‘water’ issues