February 7, 2012

Backed by Big Food, Congressman Introduces Bill to Ban Govt. From Advertising Against Junk Foods

Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN)

With widespread obesity, heart disease, lung cancer, and other ailments that can result from unhealthy diets continuing to be pressing problems in the United States, freshman Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN) introduced a bill last week to shield food and beverage companies from any government advertising or publicity informing the public about the dangers of consuming certain products.

DesJarlais’s bill is called the “Protecting Foods and Beverages from Government Attack Act of 2012,” and its purpose is summed up as follows:

To prohibit the use of Federal money for print, radio, television or any other media advertisement, campaign, or  form of publicity against the use of a food or beverage  that is lawfully marketed under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

The effective consequence of this bill would be to ban the government from advising the public against, for example, consuming too many fatty foods or sugary drinks. It is unlikely that most Americans are so offended by government advertising about unhealthy diets — nutrition guidelines have been published by the federal government since 1916 — that they would demand a ban like DesJarlais is proposing.

However, some groups that would support such a ban are the food and beverage industries, which are regulated by the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Among Political Action Committee (PAC) donors to DesJarlais’s 2012 campaign, the agribusiness sector is the leading donor. The congressman has received $14,000 from crop production & basic processing company groups, including $5,000 from American Crystal Sugar. He has also received $1,000 from the Food Marketing Institute, which calls itself the “voice of food retail.”

The Republic Report called DesJarlais’s congressional office and asked about the campaign contributions from the food industry. “You know, I’d have to take a look at that,” the press secretary responded when asked if DesJarlais’s bill would benefit donors like American Crystal Sugar. “I don’t know, to be honest. I’m not really versed on sugar policy.”

The Republic Report later spoke to Richard Vaughn, the congressman’s legislative director. “Here’s what I know, as it relates to this office, legislatively, I don’t even know who contributes to the congressman’s campaign. It doesn’t dictate our legislative initiatives,” said Vaughn. “The congressman has always been a less big government, less federal spending kind of member. That’s been his focus. That’s his attention, and that’s his directive to me as a legislative staffer. Whether it’s legislation that we’re voting on on the floor or whether it’s legislation that we’re introducing.” Both the legislative director and press secretary also several times reiterated that, as congressional staff, they are not allowed to comment on issues related to DesJarlais’s campaign.

It is difficult to ascertain exactly why the congressman wants to stop the government from advising its citizens against unhealthy diets, but it certainly seems to be a ban that his campaign donors would profit from.

  • fukum

    The Rep sure seems to know what a Whopper box looks like…

  • Anonymous

    Gotta love this guy… he’s a doctor, and his mother was a nurse. Whatever happened to “First do no harm”?


  • True Sue

    By the look of him, he has paid no attention to anyone’s nutrition guidelines! The next thing to happen will be the tobacco industry finding some bozo to sponsor legislation to ban any government ads against smoking! How do these jokers get elected?

  • Anonymous

    Shame on Rep. DesJarlais! If this “congressional accomplishement” were to be carved on his tombstone, his descendants would be ashamed to be related to him. Note to other loony congress critters — think of your legacy!

  • Keith

    Here is my problem with Republicans: they want less government so that huge multi-national corporations can exercise greater control. Republicans complain when the government interferes with their personal liberties, but they have no problem when several multi-nationals (Philip Morris, Nestle, and Monsanto, among others) dominate consumer choice concerning goods and services and thereby effectively rob American citizens of their economic liberties. There is no greater example of this imperial monopolization than in the food, agricultural, and cosmetic industries.

    The reason for less government control is not so that these huge corporations can exercise imperialistic socio-economic domination. The reason for less government is so that individual people may make their own choices, to choose what they deem best for themselves and their families.

    • Cj64luke

      I’m a Republican Who despises Monsanto so don’t pin this all on us. There was a recent Senate bill sponsored by democrats outlawing home gardens organic farming and seed transfers between individuals somehow placed under maritime smuggling laws. all produce and seed sales were to be G.M this law was shut down (or at least minimized) by Republicans in Congress. I guess my point is that politicians are scum no matter what side of the isle they happen to sit. So how about we boot the lobbyists and their money out of Washington Since politicians always seems to favor big corporations over the #1 employer in the nation small business.

  • D Roberts

    The government is stupid. Their “nutritional advice” (sponsored by Big Ag) has made us fatter and less healthy. Stop telling us what’s good for ourselves. Stop advertising MyPyramid(Scheme).gov. Even the original author of the Food Pyramid said that the agricultural lobby loaded up the food pyramid with 6-11 servings of GRAINS versus her recommended 2-3 servings.

    No more Nanny State regulations. No more “I know better than you” propaganda. Enough is Enough!

  • Pingback: A new bill is introduced last week to shield food and beverage companies from any government advertising or publicity informing the public about the dangers of consuming certain products. « Investment Watch Blog – 2012()

  • guest

    If people do not know what makes them fat and unhealthy by now……then just kill them. I do not need the government to tell me that super sizing my food will super size my body.

    • Blong2scott

      So true. But I was shocked to learn what they are doing to our meat, fruits, veggies, soy and corn. Things you would think are healthy are not. Watch Food Inc. And King Corn.

  • lotuslady

    Keith–Big Business likes big government.

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