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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Edwards Calls for Radical Shift in US Food Policy

posted by on December 27 at 10:44 AM

According to a meatpacker industry journal called Meat and Poultry (via the Ethicurean), John Edwards supports radical changes in US food policy and food-industry regulations. Among other things, Edwards would implement country-of-origin food labeling (currently not required—allowing chickens raised, slaughtered and cooked in China, for example, onto US shelves), strengthen the FDA’s regulatory authority, give one agency clear responsibility for ensuring food safety and grant it authority to mandate food recalls (currently neither the USDA nor the FDA can order a recall), and require all countries exporting food to the US to have food safety systems equal to or superior to the US system. He would also increase inspections of food imported into the US (currently, only 0.7% of food imports are inspected), pass a national moratorium on the construction and expansion of hog farm “lagoons” (open lakes of pig waste), limit farm subsidies to $250,000 per farmer, and expand conservation programs to help farmers preserve their land. Food safety and quality issues may be boring, but in the current Wild-West regulatory climate, it’s important—and Edwards is the only presidential candidate, Democrat or Republican, who seems to be making it a priority.

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More and more, he's my man. Go Edwards!

Posted by Levislade | December 27, 2007 10:42 AM

I have such a crush on him. This merely cements the adoration.

Posted by gfrancie | December 27, 2007 10:43 AM

Well, he just lost Iowa, but it's smart policy.

Posted by Fnarf | December 27, 2007 10:44 AM

Wow, that's actually very impressive. Little by little, things like this draw me closer to the Edwards camp. Thanks for posting this, ECB.

Posted by Hernandez | December 27, 2007 10:46 AM

Now there's a Christmas treat.

Posted by Greg | December 27, 2007 10:53 AM

Decent start. Too bad Edwards (and the rest) will never make a stand against the excess of federal cash we pay out to corn over-producers and other cash-croppers based largely out of--BIG SHOCKER--Iowa.

The farmers will publicly cry, "You need us for ethanol," while pumping out enough corn syrup and other cash crops to keep the farm landscape unfairly titled for another decade or two. This will only become a hot-button issue when it's too fucking late to get American agriculture back on track.

Posted by Sam M. | December 27, 2007 10:54 AM

@3, this is actually likely to be popular in Iowa, where small farms have suffered as a result of industrial farming operations and cheap food imports from places like China.

Posted by lorax | December 27, 2007 10:57 AM

good for him. not exactly a hot-button issue right now, so it seems sort of weird for him to even bring it up. a refreshing change from the focus group-style politics we get from certain front-runners, even though this will almost certainly fuck his shit up in iowa.

Posted by brandon | December 27, 2007 10:58 AM

Yeah, you know what? This just inspired me to do something I've never done before and donate to a presidential candidate. $100 says go JRE!

Posted by Levislade | December 27, 2007 11:08 AM

This makes WAY too much sense for it to ever happen.

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | December 27, 2007 11:14 AM

Edwards' policy focus has always been on issues that don't resonate with the Seattle-type NPR liberals.

Hopefully, should he be elected, he'll go further on this issue and others.

Posted by Will/HA | December 27, 2007 11:15 AM

I wouldn't think that this is as "unsexy" as some are saying. It's not as if we haven't been bombarded with enough stories of dangerous Chinese goods to freak out the average consumer. And nation-of-origin labeling sure polls well.

Posted by tsm | December 27, 2007 12:45 PM

Yeah, put the Feds in charge of our food.
Just like they make us safe on airplanes with TSA.
And, like they made New Orleans safe with the Corps of Engineers, and the rescue of one agency's failure by another group of dolts, FEMA.
And, the outstanding FedJob of making our drug supply safe with the FDA.
Yeah, more money, different attitude, blah,blah,blah,
tell it to the Russians.
The end up is crackup.
Christ don't you ever learn?
Always looking for someone to save you from yourselves?

Posted by sceptic | December 27, 2007 12:54 PM

That's all well and good, but it'll never happen. Too much $$$ involved to have a do-gooder change things that much.
But since we're on food-policy topics:
How about allowing "GMO-free" labels on actual GMO-free food products.
Or removing federal subsidies for meat production, and letting the free-market(TM) set the actual price of meat.
And that comment about "food safety systems equal to or superior to the US system"
Yeah, like the way we feed "downer cows" ground up to other cows... USDA: "Is there a BSE test for meat? No."

Posted by treacle | December 27, 2007 12:59 PM

I just may have moved from Obama to Edwards with this one.

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | December 27, 2007 2:00 PM
Edwards is the only presidential candidate, Democrat or Republican, who seems to be making it a priority.

Edwards is the only presidential candidate, Democratic or Republican, who is making *a lot* of important things a priority -- such as stricter accountability for the health-insurance industry.

These statements on food policy are much-needed and long overdue on the campaign trail. Thanks, Erica.

Posted by ivan | December 27, 2007 3:41 PM


"Yeah, put the Feds in charge of our food.
Christ don't you ever learn?
Always looking for someone to save you from yourselves?"

The Feds are ALREADY in charge of our food, you just haven't heard the news yet. The US govt lays out thousands of regulations dictating the production, processing, transportation, storage, labeling, and trade in our nation's food. Didn't you see the part above about the billions in subsidies we give to farmers? Those subsidies are for the Big Five crops: corn, wheat, soybeans, cotton, and rice. D'ya think that those subsidies have an impact on what gets grown and used for food? Now think about why there's corn syrup or corn starch in just about everything you eat. Now you're starting to see how Washington already guides most of what we consume.

At the very least we need to start whittling down that subsidy imbalance, which can go a long way towards reducing the amount of direct payments to farmers and restore some balance and sustainability to our nation's food supply, not to mention start to reduce the impact we have on drinking water and our fisheries.

We can change the subsidies in several ways, from reducing the amount given for different crops, expanding the types of crops that get we subsidize, reducing the overall amount of subsidy, and backing away from direct payments altogether and going back to something more similar to the insurance/loan programs we had before the 70s.

To say the current system is free-market is to not know ANYTHING about current US farm policy, or really the US government as a whole. Most free-market principles were lost several decades ago, Republican rhetoric just refuses to admit it.

Posted by NaFun | December 27, 2007 5:21 PM

"Now you're starting to see how Washington already guides most of what we consume."

And you really think it's going to get better with even more medding?

Oh yeah, it will be better meddling.

Posted by sceptic | December 28, 2007 6:35 AM

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