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April 17,  2002

HHS Secretary Thompson & FDA's Crawford Head List of Speakers at 2002 National Food Policy Conference

SDA Food Safety Chief Murano, Michigan's John Dingell, Former Senator McGovern Also Speaking, 'Fast Food Nation' Author Schlosser to Debate Restaurant Representative

(SafetyAlerts) - Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson will join newly appointed Deputy FDA Commissioner Lester Crawford as lead-off speakers at the 25th annual National Food Policy Conference Monday and Tuesday, April 22-23, at Washington's National Press Club.

Thompson and Crawford will appear together on Monday morning to discuss bioterrorism and other issues on the FDA food policy agenda.

Also speaking at the conference, coordinated by the Consumer Federation of America, will be Under Secretary of Agriculture for Food Safety Elsa A. Murano, Michigan Congressman John Dingell, and former South Dakota senator and presidential candidate George S. McGovern. McGovern will deliver a special 25th anniversary address titled "Food Policy, Past and Future."

Two debates also highlight the program. On Monday afternoon, David Ropeik of the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis will face former Swedish government official Mans Lonnroth. The topic is balancing risk and precaution in food policy decisions. Ropeik advocates risk assessment while Lonnroth favors the European approach of maximum precaution when the risk is uncertain. On Tuesday morning, Eric Schlosser, author of the best-selling expose "Fast Food Nation," will debate food safety with the National Restaurant Association's Steve Grover.

Bioterrorism is a recurring theme of the conference. The opening panel will address whether the nation is prepared for a terrorist attack on its food. Participating will be FDA food policy chief Joseph Levitt, food safety advocate Caroline Smith DeWaal of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, and Rhona Applebaum of the National Food Processors Association. Also on this panel is attorney Sarah Taylor, an expert on the legal issues surrounding bioterrorism. At Tuesday's lunch, Dingell will focus on food issues in the bioterrorism bill pending on Capitol Hill. As the ranking Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Dingell has been a chief architect of the bill.

McGovern will take a broader look in his in his 25th anniversary address Tuesday morning. The former presidential candidate has been involved in food issues since the 1950s as a congressman, as President Kennedy's Food for Peace Program director, as a three-term senator, and, most recently, as President Clinton's ambassador to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Agencies. Now the UN's Global Ambassador on Hunger, he is advocating a worldwide school lunch program with former Senate majority leader Bob Dole.

Murano will focus on meat and poultry safety in her Monday lunch speech. Recently, the Bush Administration has angered consumer advocates, who feel USDA is backtracking on food safety advances made under President Clinton. Murano's speech will follow a workshop also focusing on the Bush Administration's food safety record. That workshop will include CFA's food policy director Carol Tucker Foreman, Alice Johnson of the National Food Processors Association, and Nancy Donley of the food-borne illness victims group S.T.O.P. Deputy Under Secretary of Agriculture for Food Safety Merle D. Pierson will represent the Administration.

Also on Monday, workshops will cover issues including allergies and food labels, the next generation of genetically engineered foods, excesses in weight loss advertising, private testing of dietary supplements, and the Nutrition Facts label. The weight loss advertising panel will feature Rich Cleland, an attorney with the Federal Trade Commission's Advertising Practices Division, and the dietary supplement panel will include Jeffrey Asher, technical director for Consumers Union, and Roger L. Williams, chief executive officer of U.S. Pharmacopeia, USP sets voluntary standards for vitamins.

Tuesday's program includes workshops on functional foods, the farm bill's competition title, sales of irradiated foods, and a possible link between hunger and obesity. The obesity panel features Christine Olson of Cornell University, who will present research showing that women in families that sometimes run out of food have higher obesity rates than those in "food secure" households. The competition panel includes Kansas wheat and corn farmer Tom Giessel and the irradiation panel includes Wil Williams of SureBeam Corporation, an electron-beam irradiation company.

Each year, the National Food Policy Conference explores top food policy issues with a diverse mix of policymakers, advocates and scientists. It is held in cooperation with the National Food Processors Association, with technical assistance provided by the International Food Information Council.

Source: PRNewswire

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