Dietary Guidelines vs. Sustainability

May 5, 2014

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by Monsanto, and John Deere. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you. 

And now for today’s commentary— 

Congress directed the Secretaries of Agriculture and Health and Human Services to publish dietary guidelines containing “nutritional and dietary information and guidelines for the general public.” In developing the 2015 Dietary Guidelines, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) has decided to incorporate the concept of sustainability into the guidelines. 

Sustainability in food production is an important issue. However, the Dietary Guidelines are not the place for it – sustainability is outside of the mandate from Congress. Not to be deterred, however, the DGAC has created a Subcommittee on Food Sustainability and Safety to “develop and maintain a food system that is safe and sustainable to ensure current and future food security.” 

Here they come. The socially elite foodies intent on telling us how to farm. 

Predictably, at the most recent DGAC meeting, the sole presenter on sustainability wasted no time in pushing the vegetarian and organic agenda, and overlooked all of the benefits that science and technology in agriculture are bringing to reduce water and pesticide use and address volatile weather conditions. The presenter barely mentioned future food security, and conveniently ignored the inconvenient truth that the world faces an immense food security challenge: feeding an additional two billion people by 2050. 

It is sad and ironic that while the U.S. Congress is preparing to unveil a statue of Norman Borlaug (the unveiling is March 25), who pioneered and championed agricultural research to spur the Green Revolution that saved hundreds of millions of lives, the DGAC has veered off course and is attempting to turn back the clock to the day of small-scale, insufficient farming. I remember that agriculture when I was a boy – two old horses pulling a two-row corn planter. 

The DGAC would best serve the American public by focusing on its mission of providing the American people with nutrition and dietary information. 

Until next week, I am John Block in Washington, D.C.