Q & A: Food Safety & Health

Question:

We often hear that the American food system is among the safest in the world. At the same time, we also hear about multi-state foodborne illness outbreaks. How does our food system compare with others internationally? If our regulations are not strict, why not?

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Michele SimonThis notion that ours is the “safest food supply in the world” is silly rhetoric dreamed up by food lobbyists and passed on to politicians who love to use it in their stump speeches to deflect government regulation. There is no evidence this is true. Americans suffer from weekly outbreaks of food-borne illness, at times even deadly, and from eating such innocent foods as melon and peanut butter. Loved ones are lost, and lives changed forever due to our lax food safety rules.

Featured voice: Michele Simon, Public Health Lawyer & Corporate Watchdog

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Question:

Are there nutritional benefits to eating organic food?

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Michele SimonThe science may be unclear on this, but that’s not why I choose to eat organic. I care about protecting the environment – the soil and water, as well as farm workers who often suffer from exposure to chemical pesticides. Also, I find buying organic produce from my local farmers market to be incredibly more fresh and tasty than conventional produce at the store.

Featured voice: Michele Simon, Public Health Lawyer & Corporate Watchdog

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Question:

Organic food detractors like to talk about manure use as fertilizer as putting the “ick” in organic. Is organic food production, especially practices like using manure for fertilizer, less safe than industrial methods?

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Michele SimonNo, not intrinsically. There are safeguards in place to be sure manure is safe to use. It’s just typical for industry to use scaremongering tactics like the ick factor to confuse the issues. And why is using chemical pesticides not “icky?”

Featured voice: Michele Simon, Public Health Lawyer & Corporate Watchdog

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Question:

The study that came out recently from Stanford University about organic vs. conventional foods seemed to conclude that it is no safer for us to eat organic foods. What is your understanding of the findings of this meta study?

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Michele SimonMany others have pointed out the methodological problems with that study. The press just loves to have a field day with studies that create controversy, but real science is more complex than the dramatic headlines would indicate.

Featured voice: Michele Simon, Public Health Lawyer & Corporate Watchdog

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Question:

Defenders of the agricultural pesticides used across our farmland like to say that they’re all approved by the government; if they were really so dangerous to us they’d be regulated differently.

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Michele SimonCorporations are very fond of pointing to lax government regulation, which they themselves engineered through concerted lobbying campaigns. Unfortunately approval of chemicals such as pesticides is not simply science-based; rather, it’s the complex product of the pesticide industry’s political influence over the approval process.

Featured voice: Michele Simon, Public Health Lawyer & Corporate Watchdog

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