People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is calling on President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team to create a National Food Policy Council that would function in a capacity similar to the National Economic Council, but focus on food.
PETA points to what some view as the controversial 2008 Pew Commission Study as evidence that an “agro-industrial complex — an alliance of agribusiness, industry-backed scientists, lobbyists and legislators — results in the industry essentially governing itself." PETA contends that in turn results in unsafe food, obese children, environmental pollution and degradation, antibiotic resistance, cruelty to animals and more.
PETA also cited a 2008 report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, which in spite of its name some consider to be an activist group, reaches similar conclusions as the PEW study. PETA expressed concern that tens of billions of dollars in annual subsidies "prop up factory farms and artificially sustain cruel and polluting farming methods."
Not holding back, PETA argues that the National School Lunch Program and the Women, Infants and Children program should not be under USDA's control as it's in the business of promoting animal agriculture. "The result is surplus animal products being dumped on these programs, while healthy fruits and vegetables are given a low priority." PETA apparently doesn't realize that USDA oversees all U.S. agriculture, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains and more. PETA wants these programs to be reassigned to the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services, respectively. Sure, make already over-stretched schools even more responsible for areas outside the purview of actually teaching children
Even though Obama already has a dauntingly full plate of critically important tasks to tackle, PETA wants him to prioritize this action as well. "The President-elect has shown a knowledge of food issues that is yet another Obama first,” says Bruce Friedrich, PETA vice president for policy and government affairs. “Under Obama’s leadership, the formation of a National Food Policy Council could reduce waste, protect human health and the environment, reduce animal suffering and global poverty, and save money."
Okay, but no pressure Mr. President-elect — just prioritize everything will you? No question those issues are important and will continue to be so. But, food safety has long been a priority for the United States — it's not a new concept and has been handled very effectively. Evolution must be an ongoing strategy for businesses, government and people's lives, but there are more pressing issues.