Target: Dr. Robert Califf, Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration
Goal: Combat malnutrition by imposing stricter standards on junk food companies.
The world is failing to meet global goals for eradicating malnutrition, according to Hilal Elver, the U.N. Special Representative on the right to food. But it may not be a shortage of food that’s stopping people from nourishing themselves across the globe – just a shortage of nutrients. We have a glut of junk food and fast food products on the international market, which are appealingly cheap and easy – even potentially addictive – but offer little in the way of nutrient content. Globally, there are nearly 800 million people living in hunger. In addition to that number, over two billion people suffer from micro-nutrient deficiency, and another 600 million are obese. Taking all this into consideration, about half of the world’s population lacks adequate access to nutritious food.
Hilal Elver blames the rise of industrial food production, along with the liberalization of trade, for the particular brands of malnutrition we are seeing now on such a large scale. Big corporations are essentially forcing people to chose between foods that are cheap and foods that are healthy, violating the universal right to adequate food. It’s yet another story of how capitalism winds up screwing over the little guy.
As one of the most obese countries in the world, and also the most powerful, the United States has an obligation to its citizens to take a leading role in combating malnutrition. We should not sit idly by while companies like Kraft, Nestle, and Coca-Cola watch their profits expand at the expense of citizens’ health. Tell the FDA that junk food is a human rights issue. It’s time to get serious about nutrition. In Elver’s words, “states are obliged to ensure effective measure to regulate the food industry, ensure that nutrition policymaking spaces are free from private sector influence, and implement comprehensive policies that combat malnutrition in all its forms.” Let’s tell the FDA to do just that.
Dear Dr. Califf,
I am writing with a request, on behalf of the citizens in our country and in the world who suffer from various forms of malnutrition. Two billion people on our planet suffer from nutrient deficiency, and another 600 million are obese. These people, for the most part, aren’t going hungry, but they are falling victim to big industrial food corporations, which offer plentiful products to fill people up and then leave them starved of nutrients. I understand that these corporations hold a lot of power, and have historically had considerable sway over policymaking. Nonetheless, I think it’s time for us to get tough on junk food.
At a recent U.N. press conference, Hilal Elver, the special representative on the right to food, made some strong statements against the industrial food complex, blaming big junk food corporations for flooding global markets with food that is cheap and unhealthy. Forcing citizens to choose between nutrition and affordability violates our essential right to adequate food, and this should not be the status quo.
Your agency exists to protect and promote public health. Nutrition is one of the most basic and essential aspects of public health, and should be a priority of the Food and Drug Administration. I hope that you will see this, and work towards policies that regulate the food industry with the goal of combating malnutrition in all its forms.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Mike Mozart