Is the Fox Guarding the Henhouse? Who Makes the Rules in American Nutrition Policy?

May 2002

Issue: 57 Food and Drug Law Journal 371-412 (2002)

This article explores the conflicts that have emerged as the federal government has tried to balance its varied and often inconsistent roles as regulator, educator, and provider in the context of evolving social, economic, and scientific conditions. It focuses on the historic alliance between the agricultural industry and government agencies charged with promoting public health, and how that alliance has been challenged by the shift in emphasis away from diseases associated with scarcity and toward diseases of nutritional excess. The article argues that the failure to question this alliance's continuing validity in an era of plenty has rendered policy makers unduly susceptible to the influence of food industry lobbyists. The article begins with a discussion of the case PCRM v. Glickman to illustrate how the nutritional interests of the American public may not be well served by government agencies charged with both encouraging healthful dietary habits and promoting American agricultural products. It presents an overview of today's conflicts; explores the history of nutrition policy in America; and articulates the conclusion that in order to promote optimal nutrition, the government must fundamentally rework its current nutrition policy to develop a more coherent policy whose primary concern is the health of the American public.


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