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Ockham's Cafe Weekly Meetup

  • Sep 14, 2011 · 6:30 PM
  • This location is shown only to members

For food--not drug--regulation, should Americans advocate more separation of the FDA and Industry, specifically to discourage any FDA regulations that may be influenced by profits over public health?  Or, do you believe that the FDA is not influenced by the food industry to a level that should cause consumer concern?  

Here a three things to help the discussion.

(1) Skeptical Inquirer critique of nutrition research, including critical remarks about the FDA.

(2) Harvard School of Public Health's Food Pyramid, which criticizes the USDA's food pyramid (another government regulatory agency).

(3) An email from Kim with some ideas for the discussion. (I did some minor editing, including some omissions of irrelevant sentences for the group).


(1) Skeptical Inquirer

(2) Harvard School of Public Health

(3) Email from Kim...

I think it might be good to discuss the FDA and Food during one discussion and then FDA and Big Pharma during another discussion. I think both topics could fill two meetings. Just a thought.

I think a good question is "Should we advocate for separation of FDA and Industry?" The American consumer has increasingly become the guinea pig the more industry takes over. "Do we want to be guinea pigs or do we want more safe guarding of our food supply?"

Ok, so FDA and food. Most of what I have learned comes directly from Rossi's book What Every American Should Know About Who's Really Running the World. I have then read some of the references in this book. Here is a summary for those who haven't looked into it.

1) The FDA was created in 1906 in response to meat packing abuses and patent medicine hoaxes. It quickly became the country's "watchdog" for food and drugs and was successful at doing so.

2) The FDA budget is about 2.5 billion (better than 1.8 billion in 2005). However, consider this budget compared to our other government budgets.

3) 76 million Americans get sick from their food every year (300,000 are hospitalized and 5,000 die) (2005). This is merely food poisoning. We have no clue how many will become sick or die from cumulative effects of unstudied chemicals and alterations. 

4) Gradually since 1906, the FDA has transitioned from a protector of the consumer into being increasingly controlled by industry. For example, in the early 1990s, Dan Quayle helped to create the Council on Competiveness. The Council decided to pass the "food equivalence" policy, which meant that genetically modified food was to be considered safe for consumption, and subject only to the same screening as non-GM food. This paved the way for companies like Monsanto to get their food green-lighted in a hurry to increase profit. This is regardless of the fact that GM food had not been tested for safety on humans. Bottom line: is GM food safe? Maybe, maybe not. The Council decided that the American public would be the guinea pigs who will find out. Many foreign countries won't purchase our GM food, calling it "frankenfood."

5) The FDA is employed with many food and drug industry insiders. Is this OK?

6) There are many chemicals/additives allowed into our food supply which have not been adequately tested or are ignored once suspicion arises. Aspartame, pushed through by Rumsfeld, is a good example. Ten thousand complaints (2005) have been filed with the FDA regarding aspartame and it is still in our food supply. Irradiation ("cold pasteurization") is approved by FDA even following research in Germany which found that it has potential to produce tumors.

7) Monsanto is the biggest producer of GM food. They patent their seeds and have one year contracts. They have the right, and have exercised the right, to sue farmers for saving seeds to plant the following year and to sue neighboring farmers if their fields are accidentally cross pollinated (through wind) with Monsanto seed, if that farmer doesn't pay Monsanto. Monsanto pushed Posilac through the FDA, a growth hormone for livestock. Not only does it increase the suffering of the animal, but we don't know if can cause human suffering (some studies suggest increases in human cancer risk). Farmers are not allowed to label their milk as coming from Posilac cows.


Disclaimer: Ockham's Cafe is attended by members of the general public and MFA members.   Each member is encouraged to openly discuss his or her own personal viewpoints, which do not necessarily reflect the official viewpoints of the Memphis Freethought Alliance, Inc.

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