Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Bittman: Lobbying Groups and Their Obese Influence

In his column ("No Meatless Mondays at the U.S.D.A") in today's online edition of the New York Times, Mark Bittman discusses another instance of institutionalized and robotized financial concerns that kneecap considerations for the greater good. Even if you don't agree with the concept of Meatless Mondays, the lighting speed in which the U.S.D.A. kowtowed to the National Cattlemen's Beef Association is as disheartening as biting into a well-done piece of grass-fed beef.

Here's the start of Bittman's description of the events:
"A trade organization exists to promote the interest of its members; at least some of its work involves lobbying the government for preferential treatment, though most trade organizations would label this 'fair.' It’s a clear mission and an unconflicted one; whether the interests of the trade organization coincide with those of the public at large is a matter of chance and not a governing concern. Thus in the course of the events of last week — events that will go down as an amusing footnote in the annals of food progress, and further evidence of government cowardice — the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association acted appropriately: it defended the interests of its members without worrying about the interests of the rest of us.

"The Department of Agriculture, however, has multiple missions. One is 'to keep America’s farmers and ranchers in business.' Sadly, although the statement doesn’t say which farmers and ranchers, in practice this has meant those who produce commodity crops: wheat, rice, cotton, corn and soybeans, and the animals and junk food whose production relies on the last two. The second is 'to end hunger and improve health in the United States.' Last week, the U.S.D.A. betrayed its mission to improve health, acting in a cowardly fashion. For that it should be taken to task.

"The events, which unfolded last Wednesday afternoon, could be seen as funny."
Click here to read how funny—or sad?—the rest of the story is.

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