The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Ben Lilliston,Communications Director,(612) 870-3416,

Time for Health Professionals to Get Active on Food and Farm Policy

New Healthy Food Action website makes action easy


Health professionals are on the
front lines of America's broken food system, linked to the current
obesity epidemic as well as a surge in related, costly diseases such as heart
disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer. While the health community sees the
downstream impacts of the food system every day, it often gets left out of
national debates about food and farm policy in Washington. A new website sets
out to change that.

Healthy Food Action (
makes it simple for health professionals--nurses, dieticians, physicians,
public health workers, social workers and others--to engage in major
public policy debates that affect our food system. It provides both vital
information and easy-to-use tools to contact legislators, government officials
and companies.

"Health professionals were the key to curbing tobacco
use in our country. That kind of leadership is desperately needed to turn
around our unhealthy, obesogenic food environment, and to get more sustainable
farms growing healthy foods," said David Wallinga, M.D., director of the
Food and Health program at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
(IATP). Wallinga also serves as the William T. Grant Foundation Distinguished
Fellow in Food Systems and Public Health at the University of Minnesota.

Current food and farm policy largely incentivizes the
production and consumption of unhealthy foods while encouraging practices on
the farm--such as pesticide use and excessive antibiotic use--that
contribute to more disease and worsen public health. Adds Wallinga, "By
speaking out, health professionals can lend their unique, collective voice to
public policy debates around farming and food--a voice to ensure these
policies are consistent with better health."

In the coming months, Healthy Food Action will focus on
the routine feeding of arsenic to poultry, the excessive use of antibiotics in
raising food animals and the U.S. Farm Bill. Healthy Food Action is a project
of IATP.

The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy works locally and globally at the intersection of policy and practice to ensure fair and sustainable food, farm and trade systems.