by Jill Krueger
See this piece on the Network for Public Health Law’s blog exploring the question of whether policies should be enacted even if the research is not deemed “exhaustive.” While it uses the example of organics, it is relevant to many other issues at the intersection of health and agriculture.
I am always a little puzzled when I hear organic foods trumpeted as a good personal choice without a corresponding call for policies to make it easier for farmers to grow organic foods.
For example, the President’s 2010 Cancer Panel report on reducing environmental cancer risks recommended that, to the extent possible, individuals choose foods grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers and free-range meat. In a chapter discussing exposure to contaminants from agricultural sources, the Panel included quotes calling for agricultural policies like those contained in National Organic Program regulations. Nevertheless, the Panel did not make any policy recommendations to support organic farming. The report only called for more research on vulnerable populations, such as farmworkers, to determine environmental influences on cancer risks, and urged that identified risks be remediated to the maximum extent possible.