Two Kucinich Amendments Strengthen ‘Improving Nutrition for America’s Children Act’
Reduce Mercury Exposure and Expand Access to Organic Food
WASHINGTON - Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today secured two victories during consideration of H.R. 5504 the Improving Nutrition for America's Children Act in the Education and Labor Committee that will strengthen the bill and protect future generations. The first amendment will establish a trial program to increase organic foods in school meals. The second amendment will reduce the consumption by pregnant women and children of foods that have high levels of mercury.
The first amendment, jointly sponsored by Kucinich and Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), will provide competitive grants to schools who wish to increase the amount of organic food offerings in the school lunch program.
"This amendment is good for our children's health, it's good for schools, it's good for farmers, and it's good for our environment," said Kucinich. "For most of the history of the school lunch program, the cost of organic foods has made them cost prohibitive for school lunch programs, which operate under serious budget constraints. As organic foods have become more affordable, even with the heavy amount of subsidies going to conventional food, we can now create opportunities to get organic foods to children,"
Kucinich's second amendment will reduce exposure of mercury to low-income children, and pregnant and breastfeeding women -- those most vulnerable to its toxic effects. The amendment requires the Department of Agriculture, in consultation with the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, to issue scientific guidance that will be provided to administrators of the child nutrition programs and the Women, Infants and Children program (WIC). This information will help schools and WIC programs avoid fish that is high in mercury in favor of healthier fish.
"Mercury is highly toxic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that the primary way people are exposed to mercury is through diet and most dietary exposure to mercury is through certain fish. This amendment will drastically lower risk to children, the fetus, and pregnant women while preserving their access to fish high in essential nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids.
"As long as the programs designed to improve the health of the most vulnerable children, are feeding them food that is high in mercury, taxpayers are subsidizing the slow poisoning of their brains at the exact time their brains and cognitive functions are developing the fastest. There is no reason for the government to help kids grow up healthy with one hand while impairing them with the other," said Kucinich.