Filed Under: Food Police Food Scares

A Consumer Freedom Free-For-All

Today our e-mail in-box runneth over with stories about the politics on your plate. Here’s just a sampling of how our favorite dietary scolds, anti-science wags, fringe environmentalists, and animal-rights enforcers continue to run amok.

“When it comes to the science of dietary fats,” this morning’s New York Times observers, “what to eat when is a moving target.” The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), which has waged an all-out war against “trans” fats, is nonetheless not happy about Paul Newman’s trans-fat-free cookies because they’re made with palm oil. Palm oil production, a recent CSPI ad claims, “is killing orangutans” (yes, that’s a CSPI ad, not a PETA promotion). And, let’s all remember, the increased use of trans fats started partly as a consequence of CSPI’s complaints in the 1980s that food companies used too much saturated fat.

The Chicago Tribune jumped back on the mercury bandwagon yesterday with coverage of an activist group’s report about mercury levels in Illinois sport fish. Nowhere in the Tribune‘s coverage is it noted that the report found zero fish — that’s zip, zilch, nada — with mercury levels anywhere near a level of health concern. Nevertheless, activists are already telling reporters that they are “trying to get warning labels and signs” in grocery stores to “protect” Illinoisians.

Government scientists are confirming that pfiesteria piscicida, the so-called “toxic cell from hell,” was not responsible for a fish-kill that put a $100 million scare into North Carolina fisheries a few years ago. (We first hinted at these findings back in 2003.) So far there has been no comment from the Waterkeeper Alliance, which raised significant sums of money warning Americans that pfiesteria — fed by livestock-farm pollution — was a serious human health threat.

Compared to a violent 2005 demonstration in Philadelphia, this year’s Chicago anti-biotechnology protest event was a dud. As the modern marvel of agricultural biotech moves forward (10 years later and over 1 billion acres planted), activists are now organizing farmers “to enact manufacturer liability statutes.” If you can’t beat ‘em, sue ‘em.

Some much-needed reason is finally bubbling to the surface of what has otherwise been a fear-laden public discussion about bird flu. This morning, USA Today carried the comments of Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Fauci has concluded that “a lot of different things have to happen to that virus” before it could jump easily from human to human. Americans, he adds, “need to not be overly consumed by it at this time.” Add to this a Vietnam infectious-disease specialist’s observation in The New York Times that a bird-flu pandemic is “very, very unlikely.” And a World Health Organization spokesperson now tells reporters that “we don’t know if it is going to be a bad pandemic, when it will strike, any of that stuff.”

The animal-rights-goliath Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is trumpeting its recent “Pollie Award” honors, bestowed by the American Association of Political Consultants. HSUS executive vice president Michael Markarian bragged in a press release about his group’s three Pollie wins, forgetting to mention that he was on the judging committee. The Center for Consumer Freedom, meanwhile, managed to snare three Pollies of our own (for our ground-breaking website, and our “Soup Nazi” and “Smash” TV ads), without the benefit of a string-pulling insider.

More on “Food Police”

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