USDA and HHS: Ignoring recommendation, refusing sustainability for 2015 DGAs

Many Americans are wanting more locally grown, more sustainable food that’s GMO- and pesticide-free. In fact, it’s a growing desire stemming from the knowledge that it would indeed be better for us, and the environment, and the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee knows it. However, the government seems to be trailing behind its people, and it’s own advisory panel.

In February, the DGAC proposed that sustainable, less processed foods be favored over more resource-heavy and processed items like meat in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs).

The Obama administration announced on Tuesday in a blog post co-written by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell sustainability would not be part of the 2015 DGAs, which should be finished in December. Questions about how food is grown or raised will not be included, either.

They claim that there has indeed been discussion about whether or not sustainability should be included. They defined sustainability as the environmental impact of a food source, while noting that some things “require more resources” than others. One must wonder what exactly is considered part of “environmental cost”, and whether or not things like pesticides or genetic modification used to enhance growth will be included. Ultimately, the conclusion is, “We do not believe that the 2015 DGAs are the appropriate vehicle for this important policy conversation about sustainability.” Although the USDA and HHS claim that sustainability is not within the scope of the DGAs, others do believe that it is well within their right – especially since the DGAs have already taken the liberties of suggesting physical activity levels and food safety.

Vilsack and Burwell went on to comment that the USDA spends billions of dollars on sustainable food each year and they are “committed to continuing this investment.”

How very diplomatic.


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