THE ISSUES

Food

Government Responsibility FOR Food Safety

Over the past century, the advent of modern farming techniques, the corporatization of agriculture, the use of petrochemical-based fertilizers, and the subsidizing and encouragement of the growth of genetically modified foods have collectively created a poisonous brew that is now affecting our health and well-being in critical ways.

The function of protecting America’s food supply was given in 1930 to an agency called The Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Most of us have grown up believing the FDA to be a watchdog on the look-out for threats to our health and well-being.

It’s not.  

In fact, the deregulatory trend that began in the 1980s as a financial boon to corporations has resulted in what is now a drastically underfunded and under-resourced FDA. More significantly, it has been turned into a toothless tiger with drastically diminished authority to actually put a stop to the kinds of abuses our government should be protecting us from.

A way-too-cozy relationship between the US government and its corporate benefactors has become the order of the day. In what is commonly called a “revolving door” practice, former corporate leaders now routinely move into positions of governmental authority.

Sources of corruption in our food include the following:

  • Excessive pesticides/herbicides/fertilizers.
  • Genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
  • Air and water pollution
  • Crowding of animals – chickens, cows, pigs – and feeding them antibiotics and growth hormones
  • Food processing
  • Weak monitoring of and enforcement relating to food borne pathogens
  • Outdated food pyramid guidelines.

The Corruption of Our Food Supply

Many of our health problems, including obesity, can be traced to the corruption of our food supply. We experience a lack of vitality in our food and thus, in our bodies, from processed foods containing poor-quality calories, few if any nutrients, and the residue of poisons from chemical farming.

We heavily subsidize unhealthy mass-produced foods like corn syrup and hydrogenated oils, when we need to be supporting the production of healthy, whole foods, making them more affordable and available. We must also update our nation's outdated nutrition guidelines and our food pyramid, which have not caught up to the science of what constitutes healthy food.

While its manufacturers claim that GMOs increase yield and, thus, help feed the starving of the world, scientists question whether that assertion is true. In fact, GMOs contaminate our gene pool, can be poisonous to birds and other living things, and have led to the production of increasingly dangerous herbicides such as Roundup.

Roundup is linked with sterility, hormone disruption, birth defects and cancer. It has been shown to cause birth defects in amphibians, embryonic deaths and endocrine disruption, and organ damage in animals even in very low doses.

Due to these and other concerns, over 39 (as of 2016) countries have banned the production of genetically modified foods. Yet the United States, one of only 26 countries that grow GMO crops, has over 180 million acres of GMO crops under cultivation. More than 70% of all U.S. cropland is already planted with GMO crops, and 70% - 80% of all foods sold in the US now contain GMOs – especially processed and non-organic foods.

We should at least know when we are eating food made from GMOs. While the Big 6 pesticide makers – particularly Monsanto and Dupont – spent tens of millions of dollars to defeat GMO labeling propositions in both California and Washington State, as president I would seek to limit their power. I would work to label all GMOs, and to strengthen consumer protection by the FDA and USDA.

A Williamson administration will support local, small family farmers and ranchers far more than we currently do. They have been especially hard hit by the current administration's trade policies, as well as by the impacts of climate change. My presidency will support regenerative, sustainable agricultural practices that not only have highly profitable yields, but can also help turn the tide on climate change.

Once again, until we have limited the influence of moneyed interests on the functioning of our government, we will always be fighting for the interests of the American people against encroachment by huge multinational corporate interests such as Big Ag, chemical companies and so forth. 

We are no longer a functioning democracy when money gets to talk more than we do.

Republicans in Washington are also currently trying to rid the United States of food stamp programs. For many of our children, our disabled, our elderly, and even members of our military, food stamps make a daily difference in their lives. The idea of stealing from the poor in order to make it easier for the rich is not, in my mind, the way to cut America’s deficit. A moral deficit is as serious as a financial one.

Furthermore, the mistreatment of animals is damaging to the American soul. As custodians of this planet, we are intended to care for the animals that share the land with us. The meat and dairy industry needs to better take into account the treatment of animals. We need to find a way to better respect animals, and stop what in some cases is inhumane treatment—all the while, supporting our farmers and ranchers, financially and otherwise, to help make it so. Each of us must examine, carefully and soulfully, how our dietary choices not only affect our bodies and our planet, but how they literally affect the animals themselves.

SPECIFICS

FOOD SAFETY DURING A WILLIAMSON PRESIDENCY

The Williamson administration will:

  • Prohibit the revolving door between big Agribusinesses and the FDA and USDA.
  • Radically increase the number of food inspectors in the country and give them the resources and regulations needed to enforce existing laws.
  • Support local, small family farmers and ranchers far more than America currently does. Small family farmers and ranchers have been especially hard hit by the current administration's trade policies, as well as by the impacts of climate change.
  • Support regenerative, sustainable agricultural practices that not only have highly profitable yields, but can also help turn the tide on climate change.
    Limit the influence of moneyed interests on the functioning of our government, so that we can fight for the interests of the American people against encroachment by huge multinational corporate interests such as Big Ag, chemical companies and so forth.
  • End subsidies to huge agri-businesses, particularly when it comes to unhealthy foods like corn syrup and hydrogenated oils (as above).
  • Update our nation’s outdated nutrition guidelines so they keep up with the science of what constitutes healthy food.
  • Label GMOs so that consumers can make educated choices.
  • Strengthen consumer protections by the FDA and USDA.
  • Protect Food Stamp Programs. Double the value of SNAP program benefits when used toward the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Revamp our animal cruelty laws in order to better treat animals, even those raised for consumption.
  • End the over-crowding of animals in Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. Ban routine use of antibiotics in animal agriculture/meat production,  mainly due to the danger it poses through the breeding of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
  • Set up healthy standards for food processing so that our food isn’t patently unhealthy.
  • End the excessive use of pesticides/herbicides/fertilizers.
  • Increase the monitoring of and improve the response to food borne pathogens.
  • Strengthen America's food supply not only as a way of increasing health but also decreasing health care costs.
  • Address the danger of contaminants in America's water supply.
  • Improve school nutrition programs and nutritional opportunities for America's children overall.
  • Ban advertising of junk food that specifically targets children.
  • Ban pesticides that contain scientifically proven carcinogens or neurotoxins. Tax producers of chemical pesticides; apply revenue toward the creation of greater accessibility and affordability of fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Federally subsidize food pantries and fresh produce availability in food desert areas, in keeping with a federal standard for minimum nutritional requirements.
  • Deal aggressively with the safety hazard posed by contaminants in America's drinking water. The battle for public health has been dropped from the EPA orientation in favor of a cost-benefit analysis, by both Democrats and Republicans. Under administrations from both parties, in over 20 years the EPA has not added a single drinking water contaminant to its list of dangerous chemicals to be regulated for health and safety. There are 70 chemicals that are regulated out of 125,000 in use in the United States. And the answer is why not? What party is calling the shots? The answer is the Office of Management and Budget, which operates solely on an economic basis. They’re looking out for the economic welfare of the country and the benefit of large corporations, but they’re not looking out for our public health.

    The other problem with the OMB is that often the polluter is the government itself — NASA, Department of Defense and Department of Energy . Frequently, therefore, the OMB chooses to not have stronger regulation by the EPA because it would cost the government so much money to clean up its own mess.

    The waste water coming out of hospitals and hospices is extremely toxic, and should have their own waste water remediation treatment just like factories with toxic waste do. This is just one of many ways that our water is contaminated, contributing to illness and all many of societal problems.

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