Annals of Health Law
HOW TO REGULATE TOXIC FOODS
poverty. From rising childhood and adult obesity to issues of food
safety, air and water pollution, worker’s rights and global
warming, our current food system is leading our nation to an
A number of policy changes could help to address some of the current
food industry challenges. For example, the 2012 farm bill should shift
agricultural policy by decoupling production from income support,222 which
should assist small farmers. This will assure farmers that their incomes will
be reasonable, while allowing them to diversify their crops. This will not
only lead to an increase in acreage dedicated to healthier crops, like fresh
produce, but will also help protect farmers who will be less dependent on
the market price of a single crop.223
Furthermore, policymakers should create a system that minimizes the
influence of outside lobbying.224 This could be achieved through the
creation of an independent national Director of Food.225 The Director of
Food could be a non-political appointee within the FDA. Alternatively, the
Director of Food could be entirely independent of current administrative
agencies. The key will be to appoint the Director in a manner that shields
him or her from political pressure, while providing sufficient authority to
221. FOOD DEMOCRACY NOW, http://www.fooddemocracynow.org/about/ (last viewed
Jan. 13, 2013). Efforts to address some other food supply problems are underway.
222. See supra notes 102-109 and accompanying text; see e.g., Food Safety
Modernization Act, 21 U.S. C. § 2201 (2011) (giving FDA power over imported foods and
ability to create standards to prevent food contamination.).
223. Foster, supra note 101 and accompanying text.
224. Lobbying efforts helped defeat the soda tax proposed by New York’s former
Governor David Patterson. Lobbying is used extensively in this country for a whole host of
things. For example, lobbyists may try to keep corporate tax rates low in general. Cf. Alex
Marshall, How to Get Business to Pay Its Share, N.Y. TIMES, May 3, 2012, available at
puzzle.html?_r= 1 (arguing for a National Companies Act, Marshall notes that “[w]hile the
company is a symbol of private enterprise, its existence is made possible by a charter that
some government writes and grants. It should serve public as well as private ends – and pay
its rightful share in taxes.”); see also Food Safety on Hold, N.Y. TIMES, Apr. 27, 2012
available at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/28/opinion/food-safety-on-hold.html.
(criticizing Congress for failing to act on an interagency committee’s recommendations on
“voluntary standards for manufacturers on the nutritional content of food marketed to
children under age 18.”); INTERAGENCY WORKING GROUP ON FOOD MARKETED TO CHILDREN,
PRELIMINARY PROPOSED NUTIRITONAL PRINCIPLES TO GUIDE INDUSTRY SELF-REGULATORY
EFFORTS: REQUEST FOR COMMENTS, http://www.ftc.gov/os/2011/04/
110428foodmarketproposedguide.pdf (describing the voluntary standards).
225. Cf. Kristof, supra note 104 (suggesting that the Department of Agriculture be
renamed and its mission refocused on food. Kristof points out that today, only two percent
of Americans are farmers, compared to thirty-five percent when the Department of
Agriculture was formed.).