ABC Issues Stark Call for More Produce Regulation
An E. coli outbreak in pre-packaged spinach proved a convenient excuse for ABC to push for more regulation of American agriculture, citing the pro-regulation, anti-food industry Center for Science in the Public Interest as merely a âfood safetyâ advocate.
âAs ABCâs Lisa Stark explains, this case is calling into question how the entire food supply is monitored,â anchor Charles Gibson said, introducing Starkâs story.
After a brief sound bite from Tom Stenzel of the United Fresh Produce Association defending the industryâs commitment to safety, Stark set out to push for more regulation.
âFood safety groups say part of whatâs wrong is government oversight of the fruit and vegetable industry, which is nowhere near as tough as oversight of the meat business,â Stark noted before showing CSPIâs Caroline Smith DeWaal complaining that âthe FDA simply doesnât have the budget, the manpower, or the authority to really do the job correctly.â
Stark left out that CSPI advocated a bigger government bureaucracy to handle food inspection well before the recent spinach contamination episode.
In a November 2005 report, CSPI called for Congress to âpass legislation to form a unified, independent food-safety agencyâ with the power âto recall food from the market and to penalize companies that produce contaminated products.â
Stark did not clearly explain to viewers DeWaalâs advocacy of such a sweeping bureaucracy, although she did show a sound bite from Sen. Dick Durbin, a liberal Democrat from Illinois, who calls for âconsolidating food safety under one agency.â
Durbinâs liberal voting record clocked in at a âliberal quotientâ of 98 out of 100, according to the liberal Americans for Democratic Action. The American Conservative Union gave Durbin a mere 7 points out of 100 points in his lifetime rating.
Absent from Starkâs story was an argument against more regulation, or an examination of how more regulation could result in higher produce costs for consumers.
As the Business & Media Institute has documented, CSPI is far from a dispassionate consumer or food safety group, although the media often present its views without advising audiences of its liberal agenda and penchant for litigation.
âThe judicial system can play an important role in spurring public health advances,â CSPI executive director Michael Jacobson argued in a May 3 press release. Yet the following morning on âThe Early Show,â co-host Julie Chen failed to mention, much less question, CSPIâs use of lawsuit threats to achieve its aims.
A month later on the June 13 âWorld News Tonight,â ABCâs Elisabeth Leamy similarly failed to scrutinize CSPIâs use of a lawsuit to push KFC to change its cooking oil. Leamy ignored the groupâs liberal leanings, calling it a âconsumer group.â