July 16 2014

Statement: July 17 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Hearing

Victoria Coley

Statement submitted by Julie Gunlock, Sr. Fellow, IWF, to the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee ahead of the Thursday, July 17 hearing. 

I appreciate this opportunity to provide comments to the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) as it prepares recommendations for the 2015 Dietary Guidelines.

As a mother, I am very concerned about the rising cost of food. The DGAC’s shift from diet and nutrition to environmental issues will increase food costs for all Americans at a time when consumers are already struggling with higher prices at the grocery store.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “in California, the biggest U.S. producer of agricultural products, about 95% of the state is suffering from drought conditions, according to data from the U.S. Drought Monitor. This has led to water shortages that are hampering crop and livestock production.”

As a result, U.S. retail food prices are expected to increase up to 3.5% this year.  Consumers are seeing similar price hikes on breakfast staples like bacon, coffee, and orange juice because of global supply problems.

The price of beef reached its highest price point in almost three decades in February at $5.28 per pound. Analysts estimate that prices will likely stay high for some time because of growing demand in some Asian countries. Corn growers are also hurting because of China's recent rejection of 1.45 million tons of U.S. corn, which lead to American grain companies having to absorb $427 million in lost sales. 

I sincerely hope that the DGAC recalibrates to focus on providing Americans diet and nutrition information. Muddying these important recommendations with issues like climate change, sustainability, animal rights, immigration, pest control other non-nutrition issues will only lead to the recommendations being ignored by the American public. While these issues might be worthy of examination and policy debates, the DGAC process is not the appropriate platform. 

Because these guidelines also affect how the military is fed, the federal school lunch program is managed, and SNAP and WIC benefits are allocated, they must reflect sound medical and nutritional advice, not further an environmental agenda.

The DGAC must return to its original mandate and focus on health and nutrition issues. Committee members must stop using the dietary guidelines process to advance a political ideology on issues like climate change, sustainable agriculture, animal rights, trade, immigration, and other non-dietary matters. The DGAC must also provide the American public with greater transparency about the methods being used and the science being considered in developing their recommendations.

Lastly, the DGAC must take into account the economic realities faced by many American families, and consider food costs while developing the guidelines. Americans deserve good, practical and non-political recommendations from this committee.

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