With the presidential election upon us, we are back with another update on food and farm policy. These issues seem to get cast aside by the mainstream media, so I am here to help you make an informed and educated decision before you head to the polls.
- Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has made it known that he wants to keep our food supply safe and affordable, but his views on the government role in that is harder to pin down. Years ago he called for a virtual elimination of the Department of Agriculture. More recently, he declared farm subsidies a “national security issue” and called them vital. His stance on food safety seems to be one that relies on the precautions of the farmers themselves, as he generally calls for rollbacks in government regulations.
- Governor Romney has recently come under fire for his reported ties to the agriculture giant – Monsanto. Monsanto was the largest client of Bain & Company while Romney was employed there, and led to a friendship between Romney and Monsanto CEO John Hamley.
- As for incumbent Barack Obama, everyone knows how important healthy eating is to the First Lady, but where does the president stand? We know he brews his own beer in the White House, his camp went as far as to release the “secret recipe” to the Obama ale. However, Obama has not won over every advocate for sustainable and safe food. Many Americans have criticized Obama’s inability to pass a law labeling all foods as being genetically modified or organic. This pledge dates back to 2007, when Obama said it would be his first course of action as president. As for other legislation, he signed the Food Safety Modernization Act into law, and has been praised for policies that are friendly to both large and small farmers, while also facing criticism that he’s been too kind to industrial-sized “agribusiness.”
- On November 6th, voters in California will get to tackle the labeling issue head on. Proposition 37 will determine whether genetically modified foods should be labeled as such. Large agricultural businesses are spending millions to defeat the measure. Monsanto has spent more than $7 million on its own and DuPont and Pepsi have combined to spend another $7 million. They’ve taken to TV airwaves to argue that it will raise food prices, increase government bureaucracy and spur lawsuits. Proponents say it lets consumers make informed choices, and is already successful in other countries. Polls say it’s a dead heat.
- If you want to find a Presidential candidate who is talking about sustainable food systems and safety, you may have to think beyond the two-party system. Green Party candidate Dr. Jill Stein was active in an effort to get the Massachusetts fish advisories to better protect women and children from mercury contamination. In the "Green New Deal for America" she calls for creating green jobs through, among other things, regional food systems based on sustainable organic agriculture, and clean manufacturing."
I hope this little rundown has helped lay out the facts and will help you make a more educated decision on November 6th!