Michelle Obama has been encouraging Americans to eat healthy ever since she stepped into the White House as FLOTUS, and it seems to have finally paid off. Throughout most of 2012 the biggest food concerns have been whether or not bath salts give you the fever for the flavor of a femur and if Skittles and Iced-T can be viewed as deadly assault weapons. Gone are the days when Americans were all freaked out about Mad Cow disease, E. coli and rats in Taco Bell. However, according to Bill Marler, those horror days of food born Armageddon might be coming back if we don’t put pressure on Barack Obama before August 1st.
You’ve probably never heard of Bill Marler but you should thank him every time you grab a To-Go box from any fast food restaurant. He’s one of the nation’s foremost lawyers specializing in food safety legislation and food borne illness cases and runs a website on Food Safety News. He cut his teeth representing victims of the E-Coli outbreak from Jack in the Box food back in the early ‘90s and has been protecting people, testifying in Congress and fighting the good fight against bad food for years. Now he’s putting pressure on the administration and asking the public to stop Obama from defunding the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Microbiological Data Program.
The program, which was started by President Bush in 2001, is a national assessment program where samples of fruits, vegetables and other foods are tested at major sites throughout the country and compared for signs of dangerous pathogens, viruses and chemicals. The Obama administration, under pressure from lobbyists in “Big Ag” are defunding the program’s 4.5 million dollar budget after August 1st, which puts our entire food supply at risk of disease, poisons and who knows what else. According to Marler:
You don’t have to know what all of those pathogens are to know that you don’t want them in your fruit and yogurt cup. To put this in proper context, yes, chasing and identifying terrorists is a lot sexier than hunting down food borne illnesses, but the death tolls highlight just how important the defunding of this program might be. The total number of U.S. solider fatalities in the War on Terror (2001-Present) is about just over 6,000 men and women. During the same decade over 30,000 men, women and children have died of food poisoning and food borne illnesses in the United States.
It would be ironic if a presidency that has focused so much on eating your healthy fruits and vegetables decided to cut corners at the last minute and put the health and safety of the entire nation at risk. There is still time to save your salad however. Simply sign the petition being distributed by Marler’s site or call your local congressperson. It would be a shame if telling kids to eat their fruits and veggies ended up being a serious health risk if this testing program folds.
This article originally appeared online at Politic365.com.