USA Today reports that the biotechnology industry is working to make soybean products trans-fat-free, and lower in saturated fat. “Consumers may clamor” for these products, the paper notes. Food cop Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) endorses the idea. And all is well in the nanny kingdom. Except that Marion Nestle, queen of the food scolds, is throwing a royal tantrum.
USA Today quotes Nestle:
Surely the population of people who care about trans fat also care about [the dangers of genetically modified food]. This looks like another desperate move by ag-biotech companies to find something useful to genetically engineer. (brackets in the original)
This statement is so utterly weird that at first we had no idea what to make of it. Why would the head of a major university’s nutrition program oppose a development that quite obviously benefits human health and is endorsed by her allies at CSPI? Why would she bemoan a development that promises to reduce saturated and trans fat in the American diet when her own book Food Politics declared that “just a one percent reduction in intake of saturated fat across the country would prevent more than 30,000 cases of coronary heart disease annually“?
The answer? Nestle is an organic food advocate who seems to hate all food corporations. She whines about genetically enhanced crops because corporations develop them.
Next month Nestle will address an event sponsored by the Socialist Caucus of the American Public Health Association (yes, the APHA has a “Socialist Caucus”). In March she spoke at a “Socialist Scholars Conference.” She was a keynote speaker at the June 2003 trial-lawyers’ conference “intended to encourage and support litigation against the food industry.” Nestle appears so obsessed with blaming corporations that she doesn’t believe parents can exercise responsibility over their children’s diets or that adults are able to regulate their weight with “balance, moderation and exercise.” When Nestle said she eschewed such common sense on CNN, an incredulous Kristin Nolt of the National Restaurant Association asked her, “You don’t support balance, moderation and exercise?” Nestle responded, “Only in theory. Only in theory.“
And here’s the real kicker. Speaking to the New York Times in 1996, Nestle made it very clear that her primary agenda is not pro-nutrition, but instead anti-corporate: “I like it better when Mike [Jacobson of CSPI] takes on the big corporations like McDonald’s,” said Marion Nestle, chairwoman of nutrition and food studies at New York University. “I like it less well when he takes on mom and pop outfits like Chinese restaurants.”