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Opinion

Obama administration pollutes guidelines for healthy eating with unhealthy ideologies

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Opinion,Food and Drink,Op-Eds,Agriculture,Food Labels,Nanny State

When "Big Food" and "Big Food Police" congratulate each other for coming together with the White House, as they did when new food nutrition labels were unveiled last week, consumers and small businesses should be very nervous.

But the controversial new labels are small potatoes compared to what the Obama administration is now cooking up. At a closed-door meeting Friday, administration officials and their advisers will plot to insert the global warming agenda into dietary guidelines mandated by Congress.

The Agriculture and Health and Human Services departments are updating the guidelines for publication next year.

By favoring foods activists think have a smaller carbon footprint, the new guidelines will increase the prices you pay for what you eat. It will also increase the cost to all taxpayers, since the dietary guidelines are used to set policy for food stamps and military diets.

Officials touted that the last version of the guidelines as being “based on the most sound scientific information” and providing “authoritative advice for people 2 years and older about how proper dietary habits can promote health and reduce risk for major chronic diseases.”

But now, committee members appointed by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius are hijacking the guidelines to advance a range of ideological agendas having nothing to do with healthy eating.

For the first time, “sustainability” is part of the agenda in drafting the guidelines. Other agenda items include “immigration," "global climate change” and "agriculture/aquaculture sustainability.”

At a January meeting, committee member Miriam Nelson emphasized the importance of addressing “sustainability” of food to make sure it has the “littlest impact on the environment.”

Kate Clancy, a visiting scholar at the Center for a Livable Future in the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, was invited to advise the committee at a recent meeting and warned that it would be “perilous” not to take into account global warming.

This isn’t nutrition, it's code language for environmental activism.

The "sustainability" buzzword is fascinating. Instead of making sure there's enough food to feed a growing global population, Obama administration food advisers pervert the concept of sustainability by arguing for lower-yield agriculture that demonizes the safe use of pesticides and rejects other high-yield agricultural technologies, such as the use of genetically modified organisms.

Food security is another concept being redefined to advance a left-wing anti-technology agenda. One appointee asked a hand-picked expert whether the pattern of foods Americans currently consume will affect "long-term food security." The answer, predictably, was "Yes. And in order to protect food security we need to return to a locally-grown, plant-based diet."

The “experts” preparing the next set of dietary guidelines are seriously considering the "important" role of urban agriculture in the food supply.

If they had their way, urban bike lanes would be lined with garden beds for organic arugula destined for the nearest inner-city neighborhood.

There’s no doubt that Americans would benefit from healthier diets. But the way these 2015 dietary guidelines are shaping up, we should be prepared for a diet of heavy-handed environmental advocacy, and nanny state food policies.

If activist groups want to advance these agendas, that’s one thing. But there’s no place for this type of unscientific advocacy in a taxpayer-funded report meant to be based on a “preponderance of scientific and medical knowledge.”

Jeff Stier is a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research in Washington and leads its risk analysis division. Thinking of submitting an op-ed to the Washington Examiner? Be sure to read our guidelines on submissions for editorials, available at this link.
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