The Brains

Dietary Guidelines: Transforming Conflicts into Expertise

This is a pretty neat trick. Conflicts of interest are now officially dead. Lobbying for high fructose corn syrup isn’t a conflict of interest for drafting dietary guidelines. It’s a qualification. Evidence of expertise. USDA has put a high fructose corn syrup lobbyist in charge of overseeing new Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

This would have been a great April Fools joke. But instead, it’s serious news.

High Fructose Corn Syrup and Snack Food Expertise

Former White House Counsel Don McGahn issued the ethics waiver that made this possible. Ethics shouldn’t get in the way of tapping the “expertise” of of Kailee Tkacz for the new guidelines, he wrote. What’s her expertise? Well, it’s not nutrition or health. Nope, her education is political science.

But she did work hard on the last update of the dietary guidelines – as lobbyist for the Corn Refiners Association. The association fought and lost on the issue of disclosing added sugars and calling them out in the 2015 guidelines. Before that, she was the lobbyist – Director of Government Affairs – for the snack food industry.

Interests, Expertise, and Conflicts

Bias and conflicts are tricky and very important subjects. As a matter of fact, we do favor tapping into industry expertise. Many smart and knowledgeable people work in the food industry. And the industry is essential for feeding the world. In many cases, professionals with industry experience have very important insights to offer.

However, the nature of one’s expertise does matter. Expertise in nutrition and consumer behavior is one thing. But expertise in twisting public policy to favor business interests is a very different thing.

Conflicts of interest are real. Junk food lobbyists should not be writing dietary guidelines. This is a sick joke.

Click here, here, and here for further perspective.

The Brains, political cartoon by Thomas Nast / Wikipedia

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May 10, 2019

2 Responses to “Dietary Guidelines: Transforming Conflicts into Expertise”

  1. May 10, 2019 at 5:48 pm, Mary-Jo said:

    I have no words. Aside from all the obvious reason you mentioned, this will inflame the ‘sugar is the devil’ campers who tout all the benefits of grass-fed butter, raw whole milk, keto-this, carb-free that, even more. Where are peoples’ heads?!

  2. May 12, 2019 at 6:25 pm, Michael said:

    Hi Mary-Jo, The answer to your question is in the etching at the top of the post. Sadly the same answer applies to many questions associated with obesity.