[X] CLOSEMAIN MENU

  • Archives

  • Categories

    • Announcements (586)
    • Antibiotic Resistance (13)
    • Antimicrobial (5)
    • Aquaculture (25)
    • Aquatic Organisms (16)
    • Bats (1)
    • Beneficials (34)
    • Biofuels (6)
    • Biological Control (17)
    • Biomonitoring (32)
    • Birds (11)
    • btomsfiolone (1)
    • Bug Bombs (1)
    • Canada (10)
    • Cannabis (27)
    • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (8)
    • Children (41)
    • Children/Schools (225)
    • Climate Change (46)
    • Clover (1)
    • compost (1)
    • contamination (95)
    • Disinfectants & Sanitizers (6)
    • Emergency Exemption (2)
    • Environmental Justice (125)
    • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (202)
    • Events (82)
    • Farm Bill (10)
    • Farmworkers (140)
    • Fertilizer (5)
    • fish (5)
    • Forestry (2)
    • Fracking (4)
    • Fungicides (8)
    • Goats (1)
    • Golf (11)
    • Greenhouse (1)
    • Health care (32)
    • Herbicides (1)
    • Holidays (24)
    • Household Use (4)
    • Infectious Disease (2)
    • Integrated and Organic Pest Management (62)
    • International (334)
    • Invasive Species (29)
    • Label Claims (47)
    • Lawns/Landscapes (205)
    • Litigation (304)
    • Livestock (5)
    • Microbiata (8)
    • Microbiome (7)
    • Nanosilver (2)
    • Nanotechnology (54)
    • National Politics (386)
    • Occupational Health (1)
    • Pesticide Drift (143)
    • Pesticide Efficacy (2)
    • Pesticide Mixtures (1)
    • Pesticide Regulation (701)
    • Pesticide Residues (157)
    • Pets (21)
    • Preemption (23)
    • Repellent (1)
    • Resistance (90)
    • Rodenticide (25)
    • Seeds (2)
    • synergistic effects (5)
    • Synthetic Pyrethroids (4)
    • Take Action (487)
    • Textile/Apparel/Fashion Industry (1)
    • Toxic Waste (3)
    • Wildlife/Endangered Sp. (359)
    • Wood Preservatives (24)
    • World Health Organization (2)
  • Most Viewed Posts

Daily News Blog

12
Apr

Federal Dietary Guidelines Needed to Promote Sustainably Grown Food for a Healthy Public and Environment, According to Report

(Beyond Pesticides, April 13, 2020) Since 1990, Congress has required an every-five-years review of its Dietary Guidelines — recommendations that are supposed, minimally, to promote public health and prevent chronic diseases. The next review and a draft updated iteration, the 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, are currently underway. The Union of Concerned Scientists (and several colleagues) have examined recent studies on dietary patterns and sustainability; their analysis reveals that the current federal guidelines on diet are unlikely to support sustainability of the food system in the long-term. Beyond Pesticides concurs, and maintains that a transition to sustainable, organic, regenerative agriculture is the path to both improved human health and long-term sustainability of the natural world essential to life.

The Union of Concerned Scientists’ (UCS’s) reportIn Support of Sustainable Eating: Why U.S. Dietary Guidelines Should Prioritize Healthy People and a Healthy Planet — identifies this next version of the federal guidelines as a critical opportunity to shift the direction of the U.S. food and agricultural system toward far greater sustainability. UCS asserts that such a shift is beyond due: the food system in the U.S. has huge environmental impacts on pollution, use of chemical pesticides, biodiversity, and emissions that significantly worsen the myriad impacts of the climate crisis — in addition to its effects on public health.

The relationship between dietary patterns and health outcomes is solidly established. Poorer diet correlates to increased risks of a multitude of chronic health problems, including Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity. Such diet-associated diseases are among the chief causes of mortality and morbidity in this country; approximately 18% of U.S. deaths can be attributed to dietary factors. The Union of Concerned Scientists has conducted research that determined that if U.S. adults actually consumed the levels of vegetables and fruits recommended by current guidelines, “nearly 110,000 lives and $32 billion in medical costs could be saved in a single year due to reductions in cardiovascular disease.” Poor diet can translate not only to negative health outcomes, but also, to significant economic cost; as UCS notes, “Another recent study has estimated the total cost of poor diets at $50 billion annually.”

Beyond those important issues, the foods that consumers choose influence mightily the kind of agriculture that is deployed. In the U.S., that is still predominantly conventional, fossil-fuel and chemical-pesticide-intensive agriculture that is profoundly unsustainable. Some of the unsavory “downstream” environmental impacts of this kind of agriculture include its contributions to climate change — higher temperatures, compromised water and air quality, and extreme weather events, among others, that present greater risks to those with chronic conditions and acute illnesses. In addition, the unsustainable practices of conventional agriculture rob soil of its living fertility, pollute waterways with runoff, harm ecosystems and wildlife, and degrade air, soil, and water — all of which make our food system increasingly unable to respond to the challenges that a warming planet represent to our food supply.

Further, because conventional agriculture relies heavily on pesticides to deal with pests and fungal diseases, non-organic diets necessarily mean some toxic chemical residue in the foods people consume. This contamination of the food supply threatens human health in a variety of ways; see more at Beyond Pesticides’ Pesticide-Induced Diseases Database. Further, the pesticide and climate impacts (especially, increasing temperatures) of conventional agriculture interact to increase the health risks to farmworkers, according to another UCS report from late 2019.

Such extensive implications of the agricultural practices employed, again, driven in large part by consumer demand, speak to the potential that a transition of our food system offers. A move to more healthful diets, supported by a sustainable, organic, regenerative agricultural system, could mean great gains for public health, the environment, and global climate. Guidelines and messaging from federal agencies can have massive impact on food and agricultural policy, and ultimately, on what American choose to eat. This is precisely why the content of the new 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines is so important.

Improved patterns of dietary consumption are often referred to as “sustainable diets” by some global policy entities. Such patterns are defined as “those with low environmental impacts [that] contribute to food and nutrition security and to healthy life for present and future generations” by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The U.N.’s IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has pointed to the need for broad changes in dietary patterns in order to rein in the growing impacts of the climate emergency. In response to such recommendations, countries such as Canada, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Germany have incorporated sustainability principles into their national dietary guidance.

As noted above, the U.S. has yet to use the best available scientific research to promote sustainable dietary patterns among its populace. When the Dietary Guidelines undergo the periodic review, a scientific advisory committee writes a report to guide the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in developing each revised set of the guidelines. In 2015, that report said: “in general, a dietary pattern that is higher in plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and lower in animal-based foods, is more health promoting and is associated with lesser environmental impact ([greenhouse gas] emissions and energy, land, and water use) than is the current average U.S. diet. A diet that is more environmentally sustainable than the average U.S. diet can be achieved without excluding any food groups.”

UCS reports that members of Congress were lobbied by industry interests (to the tune of more than $77 million in 2014 and 2015 on this and related matters). Subsequently, Congress sent a letter of dissent on the 2015 guidelines to federal agencies and passed legislation that limited the scope of the guidelines “strictly to the topics of diet and nutrient intake.” Then, USDA and HHS secretaries left the portions of the advisory committee’s findings that related to environmental sustainability out of the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines. Following on that decision, the charge given to the scientific advisory committee established for the 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines did not include any review of current research on the relationship between dietary patterns and sustainability.

UCS and colleagues stepped into that vacuum, reviewing a large number of studies that have looked at the environmental consequences of dietary patterns in the U.S. The central question in their investigation was: “What is the relationship between population-level dietary patterns and food sustainability and related food security?” Their work underscores the urgent need for the federal government to act on this research by advancing policies that protect both public health and national food security by prioritizing remedies to the environmental impacts of public dietary patterns. The UCS report says, “Consistent with the Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, new research supports past findings that diets higher in plant-based foods and lower in animal-based foods can provide greater benefits for both human health and the environment). Specifically, 16 studies in our systematic review attributed the increased environmental impacts of diets higher in animal-based foods primarily to the amount of meat (e.g., beef, lamb, pork) or dairy in the diet.”

The UCS report makes several policy and research recommendations, with this introduction and conclusion: “The federal government must act with urgency to meet the pressing public health challenges of climate change, pollution, and chronic diseases by ensuring the long-term health and sustainability of our food supply. To develop sustainable food policy with the potential to support current and future population health across environmental, social, and economic domains, we recommend the following actions:

  • The scientific advisory committee for the 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines . . . must address the relationship between dietary patterns and environmental sustainability in its report, and [USDA and HHS] must respond to these recommendations publicly.
  • Congress must support the inclusion of sustainability in the 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines.
  • Congress should enable more publicly funded research on diets that are both healthy and sustainable.

The systematic review completed by UCS and colleagues adds to a growing body of scientific evidence that dietary shifts can improve public health through chronic disease prevention, climate change mitigation, and the preservation of the future food supply. As the nation’s leading set of science-based nutrition recommendations, the Dietary Guidelines should reflect this body of evidence. It is past time that the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, supported by the best available research and implemented alongside other key federal food and agricultural policies, be equipped to address the most pressing public health challenges of our lifetime.”

Beyond Pesticides has written on the health advantages of organic dietary patterns, the role of regenerative agriculture in climate-impact mitigation, and the environmental benefits of organic agriculture, and broadly supports the analysis, recommendations, and conclusions of the UCS report. Stay tuned for an Action of the Week, which will provide the public an opportunity to comment on the current draft of the 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: https://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/2020-02/in-support-of-sustainable-eating_0.pdf

 

 

Share

Leave a Reply

  • Archives

  • Categories

    • Announcements (586)
    • Antibiotic Resistance (13)
    • Antimicrobial (5)
    • Aquaculture (25)
    • Aquatic Organisms (16)
    • Bats (1)
    • Beneficials (34)
    • Biofuels (6)
    • Biological Control (17)
    • Biomonitoring (32)
    • Birds (11)
    • btomsfiolone (1)
    • Bug Bombs (1)
    • Canada (10)
    • Cannabis (27)
    • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (8)
    • Children (41)
    • Children/Schools (225)
    • Climate Change (46)
    • Clover (1)
    • compost (1)
    • contamination (95)
    • Disinfectants & Sanitizers (6)
    • Emergency Exemption (2)
    • Environmental Justice (125)
    • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (202)
    • Events (82)
    • Farm Bill (10)
    • Farmworkers (140)
    • Fertilizer (5)
    • fish (5)
    • Forestry (2)
    • Fracking (4)
    • Fungicides (8)
    • Goats (1)
    • Golf (11)
    • Greenhouse (1)
    • Health care (32)
    • Herbicides (1)
    • Holidays (24)
    • Household Use (4)
    • Infectious Disease (2)
    • Integrated and Organic Pest Management (62)
    • International (334)
    • Invasive Species (29)
    • Label Claims (47)
    • Lawns/Landscapes (205)
    • Litigation (304)
    • Livestock (5)
    • Microbiata (8)
    • Microbiome (7)
    • Nanosilver (2)
    • Nanotechnology (54)
    • National Politics (386)
    • Occupational Health (1)
    • Pesticide Drift (143)
    • Pesticide Efficacy (2)
    • Pesticide Mixtures (1)
    • Pesticide Regulation (701)
    • Pesticide Residues (157)
    • Pets (21)
    • Preemption (23)
    • Repellent (1)
    • Resistance (90)
    • Rodenticide (25)
    • Seeds (2)
    • synergistic effects (5)
    • Synthetic Pyrethroids (4)
    • Take Action (487)
    • Textile/Apparel/Fashion Industry (1)
    • Toxic Waste (3)
    • Wildlife/Endangered Sp. (359)
    • Wood Preservatives (24)
    • World Health Organization (2)
  • Most Viewed Posts