Sept 20, 2010
The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) recently released a report highlighting the widespread influence of the food industry over food safety policies. According to the study, at least a quarter of those who work for either the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the U.S. Department of Agriculture (UDSA) have admitted that corporate interests regularly force the agencies to change or remove policies that hurt their bottom line, even when those policies protect the public.
The UCS sent 44-question surveys to roughly 8,000 workers from both the FDA and USDA, 60 percent of whom work as field inspectors. Nearly 40 percent of respondents indicated that their agencies’ practices harm public health in order to appease corporate interests, and more than 30 percent indicated that many of the higher-ups at both the FDA and USDA “inappropriately” influence decision making, in addition to having previously worked in the food industry.
“Upper level management does not adequately support field inspectors and the actions they take to protect the food supply,” explained Dean Wyatt, a USDA veterinarian in charge of federal slaughterhouse inspectors, to reporters. “Not only is there lack of support, but there’s outright obstruction, retaliation and abuse of power.”
According to Wyatt, he has been demoted for actually doing his job properly and documenting industry violations. It is highly likely that there are countless others like him who have been reprimanded, muzzled or even punished for doing their jobs.
To make matters worse, more than 30 percent of survey respondents said they believe their agencies are not “moving in the right direction”. And this makes perfect sense, considering that 25 percent indicated their agencies do not even make public health a priority when considering policy decisions.
Sources for this story include: