What should be the proper role of government in deciding how Americans grow, process, and eat food?
Because food production is now a large free-enterprise for-profit business and not just a necessity for living, the rules (or non-rules) of free enterprise (“bottom line” mentality, “buyer beware”, “our obligation is to the shareholders”, “there’s a sucker born every minute” etc.) come before moral or ethical rules; and because the chemical and genetic things done to make “improvements” in that “bottom line”--crop yields more efficient, apples wormless, watermelons seedless, etc.-- are only detectable by sophisticated laboratory testing, and because the damage to community health is so many steps removed from the first bite of food, the public consumer needs a large, powerful, consumer advocate (in the U.S., the FDA) who can enforce the considerations that the free-enterprise system has little if any regard for. Without government intervention, there wouldn’t even be a list of ingredients on packaged food products. When conservatives say “Less government bureaucracy, less federal interference, etc.” they are simply trying to open the door to shady practices. So the government’s role is to be that laboratory, those health studies, that watchdog that prevents entrepreneurs from becoming, not providers of essential foodstuffs, but snakeoil salesmen and fast-talk artists.
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