U.S. government is committed to corporations, not the public: USDA dietary guidelines set by corn syrup lobbyists
04/08/2019 // Vicki Batts // Views

The U.S. government is overrun with lobbyists and other special interests groups -- and the addition of a corn syrup lobbyist to the USDA is surely just the tip of the iceberg. It was recently revealed that the former director of food policy for the Corn Refiners Association -- a trade group for the corn syrup industry -- would be advising the Secretary of Agriculture and other USDA staff on their Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Should a corn syrup lobbyist really be advising anyone on nutrition?

As International Business Times reports, Kailee Tkacz lobbied for the Snack Food Association before heading up the Corn Refiners Association; it's hard not to question if real nutrition is her expertise. Shouldn't dietitians and other health experts be informing the nation's nutrition policies and dietary guidelines? Big Food's hand in U.S. food policies is absolutely a disgrace -- and this appointment is no different.

As reports indicate, White House staffer Donald McGahn issued an ethics waiver for Ms. Tkacz in August 2017:

"I hereby waive the requirements of paragraph 7 of the Ethics Pledge to Ms. Kailee Tkacz to allow her to advise the Secretary of Agriculture and other senior Department officials with respect to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans process. I have determined that it is in the public interest to grant this limited waiver because of Ms. Tkacz’s expertise in the process by which the Dietary Guidelines for Americans are issued every five years.”

Craig Holman, from the government watchdog group Public Citizen, commented, "Waivers from conflicts of interest should only be granted when expertise from others who have no conflicts is otherwise not available. This lobbyist has a direct and substantial conflict of interest that should disqualify her participation in the matter."


The notion that a food industry lobbyist is the best, most knowledgeable person on the matter of human nutrition and dietary needs is indeed laughable. Holman further described the waiver for Ms. Tkacz as "highly inappropriate."

While lobbying reports do not always make the lobbyists' views clear, Corn Refiners Association President and CEO John Bode wrote a letter to the USDA in 2015 to dispute the 2015 Dietary Guidelines upper limit on added sugars. Because to the industry, anyone who says that there is such a thing as "too much" sugar is putting their cash cow at risk.

In the letter, Bode wrote that there is "no research basis for concluding that reducing ‘added sugars’ specifically will have a meaningful effect on [cardiovascular disease] risk."

There are veritable mountains of evidence that show that consuming too much fructose is actually bad for your liver and can increase the amount of triglycerides (fats) circulating around in your blood stream -- which does not bode well for your cardiovascular system. More, studies have also shown that over-consumption of corn syrup and other added sugars can contribute to the onset of obesity, diabetes and even cancer. None of these things sound like they're good for your health. In fact, cutting out corn syrup has been shown to greatly improve your health.

Bode is playing a semantics game; "added sugars" make up a staggering amount of the sugar found in the average American diet. Pretending otherwise is pure foolishness. But, it does show where the organization stands on issues like actual diet quality -- and they're only standing for their own gains. The food industry knows corn syrup is bad, that's why they even try to hide it under new names.

Ms. Tkacz and other industry lobbyists like her should have no place in our government -- least of all influencing major policy decisions that impact the very industry they take part in.

Sources for this article include:



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