For years now, numerous commentators (myself included) have made comparisons of the food industry with Big Tobacco. The most recent example should become the poster child for how the most egregious tactics of tobacco companies are alive and well. Last month came the announcement that the American Beverage Association (the lobbying arm of soft drink companies) was donating $10 million to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Read more
On June 12, 1957, Surgeon General Leroy E. Burney stated that “evidence pointed to a causal relationship between smoking and lung cancer,” thereby changing the official position of the United States Public Health Service. This small but significant move opened the door to regulation of Big Tobacco, beginning a battle that came to a head last week with the FDA being granted the most power over the industry to date.
Now, more than a half a century after that first declaration, that same date brought the movie Food, Inc. to theaters, a film that reveals the dysfunction of our food system. With obesity rates at the highest point in history, contaminated food regularly sickening thousands, and government estimating we will continue to spend 6.2% more on healthcare annually (this year, an additional $200 billion, more than our annual economic growth of 4.1%), it is clear that we have a problem as big as smoking: an addiction to cheap, unhealthy food perpetuated by an industry intent on maximizing profits at the expense of our health and our land. It is time to regulate Big Food by changing the culture in Washington that allowed it to proliferate. Read more