The American Food Revolution: A Call to Action from John Robbins
John Robbins calls into question the current state of U.S. food policies and reminds us that a food revolution is possible and more important than ever.
In “No Happy Cows,” John Robbins’ observations about food politics remind us of the importance of working for a more compassionate and environmentally responsible world.
Cover Courtesy Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC
Pioneering food activist John Robbins’ provocative observations about food politics and eating more consciously have inspired a generation to reexamine what’s on their plates and embrace a healthier organic diet. No Happy Cows: Dispatches from the from the Frontlines of the Food Revolution (Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC, 2012) is a collection of his most widely discussed and circulated Huffington Post columns, along with some important new writing. Topics include whether soy is healthy or harmful, the marketing of junk food to children, health implications of chocolate and coffee, the rise of obesity in America, and the relationship between animals and the humans who raise them. The following excerpt is from the book’s introduction.
It can feel like a war out there. Who would have guessed that First Lady Michelle Obama was doing anything offensive when, shortly after her husband became president, she planted an organic garden on the White House lawn? It seemed innocuous, much like Lady Bird Johnson’s campaign to beautify the nation’s cities and highways by planting wildflowers, or Laura Bush’s support for childhood literacy.
But CropLife America, a trade association representing Monsanto and other makers of pesticides and genetically modified (GMO) food, was outraged. They angrily wrote the First Lady and widely broadcast their view that her organic garden was unfairly maligning chemical agriculture. They demanded that she use “crop-protection technologies,” otherwise known as pesticides.
From the degree of umbrage they took, you’d have thought the Obama administration was nursing major plans to do something to challenge agribusiness as usual. But that was far from the case. In fact, the president had already appointed an ardent ally of industrial agriculture, Tom Vilsack, to head the Department of Agriculture. Vilsack’s support for agrichemicals, large industrial farms, and GMO foods was so steadfast that, as the governor of Iowa, he had been the recipient of Monsanto’s Governor of the Year award.
As if to make it copiously clear that he was not intending to confront the agrichemical and factory-farm conglomerates, Obama had even appointed the man most responsible for the advancement of GMO food in the history of the U.S., Michael R. Taylor, as senior advisor to the FDA commissioner. And in case that wasn’t enough, Obama then promoted Taylor to an even more powerful position as Deputy Commissioner of Foods.
This was the same Michael R. Taylor who had made it possible for Monsanto to get GMO foods approved in the U.S. without even remotely adequate testing for possible health dangers. In a classic example of the “revolving door” between agribusiness and government, Taylor was first an attorney at Monsanto, then became policy chief at the FDA, then became Monsanto’s vice president and chief lobbyist, and then was appointed by Obama as America’s food-safety czar.
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