Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Food and Freedom: The Boston Globe today runs a review of Marion Nestle's latest howl against the dangers of eating. (Nestle's previous work, Food Politics, is a good starting point for her vision of food-as-tobacco regulation. In fact, the holy grail for the movement is some kind of proof, however dubious, that food -- especially fatty food -- can be addictive.) Not a note of the review is anything but glowing praise for the queen of the twinkie tax movement:
Nestle the scientist includes an appendix on the science of plant biotechnology, offering ''a (very) quick reminder about DNA, genes, and proteins.'' She seems to want to arm her readers with the information they'll need to avoid the common trap whereby industry and government intentionally leave out consumers who do not understand the science. And then there are the other questions about the economic or environmental impact of some decisions, sometimes left out when only the science is discussed.

''It is unrealistic to trust food companies to keep the interests of consumers paramount,'' Nestle warns, ''and we have seen that they are unlikely to pay much attention to consumer concerns unless forced to by government, public protest, or fear of poor public relations.''

Thank god she's here to save us. Look, I read The Jungle, I read Fast Food Nation, I agree with some of the concerns of food safety. But I trust market forces (the very ones that nearly destroyed Jack in the Box when they failed to "keep the interests of consumers paramount") far more than I trust the kind of regulatory nightmares the government produces. Moreover, someone who thinks that "food is too cheap in this country" and "the food industry and the government are in a conspiracy to get people to eat more" should get the same kind of skeptical treatment that the media gives to scientists who, say, question the received wisdom of the environmental apocalypse movement.

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