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A Hungry Person Today Only has One Problem to Solve

September 17, 2014
Dr. Richard Raymond, former USDA undersecretary of agriculture for food safety provided the opening keynote for the 2014 Livestock Biotech Summit on September 16. In his presentation "Agriculture Needs Safe Technologies to Feed a Growing and Hungry Worlds”, Dr. Raymond discussed the public perception verse the reality of animal agriculture. He opened by commenting on the growing sensationalism exhibited by the media, especially in social media, calling them "noise makers".

"Food scares are easy to start, and are very difficult to reign in when the noise-makers are deaf to evidence and science. A nervous public votes with its pocketbook,” he said. “Unfortunately, when it comes to the debate about using technology to increase production, the world's hungry people don't get to vote with their pocketbook."

He commented that consumers with sufficient purchasing power to have a choice often view technology as purely profit-driven and bad for animals, bad for consumers and bad for their kids. The reality is that our food is safe, and common misconceptions can weigh heavily on purchasing decisions.

Reality:

  •  "The animal agriculture industry is being painted as irresponsible and inappropriate users of massive amounts of antibiotics in healthy animals when in fact the current uses and doses of antibiotics in animals have been approved by the FDA as appropriate."



  • "Thirty times more people die from choking on beef steak than from E coli O157:H7 infections, but can you sue for a choking death?"



  • "Antibiotic resistance - I suspect that many of those calling for a ban of antibiotics in animals raised for food give their darling puppy worming antibiotics every month and don't think twice about it. Is a ‘low dose use’ or ‘high does use’ of antibiotics more likely to cause resistance? - We don't know!"


Dr. Raymond also commented on drivers of public perception and how it can be changed. When Chipotle and Chic-fil-A announce they are going antibiotic free, and Whole Foods announces they are going GMO free, some consumers assumed these corporations know something that consumers don't know. "We must turn up the volume on media relations and social media and tell truth and show the real evidence."

In an emotional conclusion, Dr. Raymond noted that it is estimated that on this planet over 3 million children under the age of 5 die each year from malnutrition or starvation. "GMOs and other technologies are our best bet to feed the world, but the foodies are NOT hungry, those who do not want us to put affordable meat and poultry in the meat coolers are NOT hungry and those that think organic meat and produce and raw milk is healthier are NOT hungry."

Dr. Raymond was a rural Family Physician in O’Neill, NE, for 17 years. During this time he also served as the President of the Nebraska Medical Association. In January, 1999, Dr. Raymond was appointed by Governor Mike Johanns to be Nebraska’s Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Raymond directed a large number of public health programs including investigations of food borne illness outbreaks and building public health preparedness.

In July, 2005, Dr. Richard Raymond moved to Washington, D.C., when President George Bush appointed him Undersecretary for Food Safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In this position, Dr. Raymond was responsible for overseeing the policies and programs of the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) which regulated the meat and poultry food industry and once again was a direct report to Mike Johanns, at that time the Secretary of the USDA.

Dr. Raymond now consults and writes on food safety and public health issues from his home in Windsor, Colorado, and speaks on the same subjects both domestically and internationally.