How can you take control of your own health when the government does this?


From The Archives - I’m going back through the old blog and reposting some of the best articles.

Warning: libertarian rant below, but it deals with your health so read it anyway.

At the direction of the agricultural-industrial complex, the U.S. Government is going out of its way to prevent you from having information that may be relevant to your health.

Let's take a step back, it's the early 1900s and you have deplorable, unsafe, unhealthy conditions in your meat packing factories. Does the government step in to protect you? Not at first. A private citizen has to write a book that gets the public into an outrage, then government begrudgingly takes action. Upton Sinclair's The Jungle created the public force that urged Teddy Roosevelt to create the Pure Food and Drug Act that eventually led to the FDA.

So the FDA has your best interests in mind, right? They're out there to protect us. Do you know the difference between having no trans-fats and "0g trans-fats"? Well the FDA hopes you're confused, because they only use "0g trans-fats" which means less than 0.5g of trans-fat per serving. With small serving sizes, you can actually get a lot of trans-fat in your trans-fat-free food.

An aside: years ago when I was in grad school, I was sitting in the Walrus Saloon downtown (yes, a high-class joint), talking to a fellow chemist about the work she was doing for a drug company. She was horrified that she was being told to sign off on some research that the drug met an FDA requirement. This was over a decade ago, so I don't remember what the requirement was, but I do remember the numbers: Her research reported a number of 0.447.  Her colleagues told her to round that to 0.45 which could then be rounded to 0.5 which then could be rounded to 1.0 that satisfied the FDA. And this was all legal. She told me this quote which stuck with me for the last 15 years: "The FDA is the department of legalized rounding."

Okay, back to the story. The FDA is one of the many Square Deal and New Deal programs commonly thought to protect us from the evils of the corporations. But when the FDA doesn't step up, someone has to. Vermont decided they had enough of the whole GMO-factory farming scene and wanted anyone who sold food in their state to have some labeling about the quality of the sourcing of the ingredients. Score one for states rights!

Well it turns out that in the century since the trust-busting anti-corporate government of the first Roosevelt, the agriculture-industrial complex has figured out how to use the government to help them. And what better way to help the factory food production system than to prevent you from getting information about what you're eating.

That's right - the federal government, probably under the guise of the commerce clause, decided that it is illegal for a state or local government to mandate any type of food labeling outside of federal guidelines. It's so much easier to buy control of one big government than 50 smaller ones (or thousands of even smaller local governments).

This bill has bipartisan support, and it was designed to be opaque - seriously, go read the linked article. The establishment (both sides!) is corrupt and going out of their way to keep you from getting information that you may want.

So should we get rid of the FDA (and all the other agencies)? Probably yes, but I won't go there today. However, I will point out that the FDA has decided not to define what gluten-free means (and that's actually good, since they would probably do something like "contains 0g gluten" and it would be meaningless). In the absence of our benevolent government stepping up to save us, private industry has filled the void, and it has done a better job.  Below are 4 different gluten-free certifications - I think there's a 5th that I've seen, but I didn't find the image for it.


Note that each certification authority has their definitions clearly stated, and you can choose the one you like. If they get it wrong and people start getting sick, they will be out of business. The market protects you. On the other hand, the FDA can't go out of business.

The scariest thing about this new bill, the "National Sea Grant College Program Act" (what?), is not that the government is not mandating any labeling, it's that it's actively mandating not labeling. This is a clear power play to prevent you from having information.

We need to take back the right to report facts. It is critical that you pay attention to what the government it doing. Your freedom to take control of your health may rely on it.

Note: this article is about the evils of a powerful two-party federal government; I'm not debating the health and safety of trans-fats, GMOs, or gluten. I'm just terrified about our ability to talk about these issues and communicate facts when the link between the corporations and the federal government is so close and so hidden from the public.

Michael Deskevich