Food Day: A Call for Food System Reform

Written by Katie Vann

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Today, thousands of events are taking place across the US as part of the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s annual Food Day Celebration. The events − ranging from film screenings to cooking demos and much more − aim to draw attention to our country’s urgent need for food policy reform.

And this year, Food Day comes just days after the Johns Hopkins Center for Livable Future released a scathing report warning of the detrimental effects of our country’s inaction on food issues. The analysis highlights the significant lack of progress on recommendations issued five years ago by the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, which suggested ways to improve public health, environment, animal welfare and rural community problems caused by industrial animal agriculture.

The new Johns Hopkins’ report further notes that the Administration and Congress have not merely failed to move forward on these important issues, but the government has acted “regressively.”

“There has been an appalling lack of progress. The failure to act by the USDA and FDA, the lack of action or concern by the Congress, and continued intransigence of the animal agriculture industry have made all of our problems worse,” stated Robert S. Lawrence, MD, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future.

So, what did the report recommend in 2008? Here is a review:

  • Ban non-therapeutic use of antibiotics for farmed animals.
  • Implement a new system for dealing with farm waste.
  • Phase out the most inhumane animal confinement systems such as keeping animals in gestation crates, battery hen cages, and veal crates.
  • Aggressively enforce anti-trust laws for producers.
  • Increase funding for animal agriculture research.

In the last five years, we’ve seen antibiotics grow into a threatening public health problem. We’ve seen our environment degraded by factory farm waste. Progress on removing intensive confinement systems has only come from outside the government by the campaigning of animal protection groups. Stronger anti-trust laws have not been enforced. Finally, research funding has decreased.

The Center for a Living Future’s food system policy program director, Bob Martin, added, “Inaction was inexcusable five years ago, now it is unconscionable.”

As the growing popularity of Food Day brings communities together, it’s clear that people want change. And, as the Johns Hopkins report shows us, that call is falling on deaf ears by a majority of our elected officials. Luckily, you can change your actions today and help protect our planet, animals, and human health by choosing healthy and sustainable food options. Learn more at TryVeg.com.