The Islamic Post Blog

Author Blames ‘Food Systems’ for Healthcare, Global Climate Challenges by ipinfo2
December 8, 2012, 12:06 am
Filed under: 2009 June Vol. 1, World

June Vol. 1, 2009

(IP) –Some pressing issues in America today are healthcare, agriculture, and climate change. The recent outbreak of swine flu has brought to the forefront, the idea that food is the catalyst for these fundamental concerns. Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, sat down with Democracy Now! host, Amy Goodman, to discuss the need for reform in the food system, as it plays a major role in understanding not only swine flu, but solving the massive healthcare crisis and global climate change.
In the interview, Pollan stressed that more research was needed to determine if swine flu resulted from the industrialized agriculture of pigs. He pointed to the outbreak in Mexico, where tens of thousands of pigs “live in filth and close contact.” The Pew Commission on animal agriculture had already called attention to public health risks creating an environment that would generate new flu pandemics, he said.
The website for the Center for Disease Control asserts, “Swine influenza viruses are not transmitted by food.” However, the CDC continues, “Eating properly handled and cooked pork and pork products is safe. Cooking pork to an internal temperature of 160°F kills the swine flu virus as it does other bacteria and viruses.” Does this mean improperly cooked pork could transmit the disease? The CDC does not elaborate.
The following is an excerpt from the interview conducted Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! with author Michael Pollan concerning difficulties with other food systems outside the swine industry:

Amy Goodman: Can you talk about corporations in other ways, like Monsanto, talking about the sustainability of genetically modified foods?
Michael Pollan: Monsanto is […] making the case that the most sustainable agriculture will be intensive production on the land base we have. The argument is that there’s only so much arable land in the world, we have ten billion people on the way, and that the only way to feed them is to get more productivity over the land we have, to further intensify agriculture, using their genetically modified seeds. […]They [the seeds] have never succeeded in raising productivity. […] the Union of Concerned Scientists just issued a report looking at the twenty-year history of these crops, and what they have found is that basically the real gains in yield for American crops, for world crops, has been through conventional breeding. […]
AG: Is understanding and resolving food manufacturing issues a key to the healthcare crisis?
MP: Well, I think that we are soon to recognize that we are not going to be able to reform healthcare, which depends on getting the cost of healthcare down, without addressing the [catastrophe of] American diet.
The CDC estimates that of the $2 trillion we’re spending on healthcare $1.5 trillion is for the treatment of preventable chronic disease. Food is implicated in heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, 40 percent of cancers, stroke, all sorts of cardiovascular problems. Treating a case of Type 2 diabetes costs the City of New York, every new case, $500,000. It is bankrupting the system, and it’s preventable.
When asked about a lengthy letter Mr Pollan addressed to US President Barack Obama on the subject of food systems, Pollan describes his most significant point: “The most salient point is simply, you are not going to be able to tackle either the healthcare crisis or climate change unless you look at our food system. In the case of climate change, food is responsible for about a third of greenhouse gases, the way we’re growing food, the way we’re processing it and the way we’re eating. And the healthcare crisis, as I’ve talked about. So we need to address it. It’s really the shadow issue over these other two issues.”



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