The Assault on Food
by John Stossel
Instinct tells us to fear poison. If our ancestors were not cautious about what they put in their mouths, they would not have survived long enough to produce us.
Unfortunately, a side effect of that cautious impulse is that whenever someone claims that some chemical — or food ingredient, like fat — is a menace, we are primed to believe it. That makes it easy for government to leap in and play the role of protector.
But for every study that says X is bad for you, another study disagrees. How is a layman to decide? I used to take consumer activists’ word for it. Heck, they want to save the world, while industry just wants to get rich. Now I know better. The activists want money, too — and fame.
To arbitrate, it’s intuitive to turn to government — except … government scientists have conflicts, too.
Who becomes a regulator except people who want to regulate? Some come from activist groups that hate industry. Some come from industry and want to convert their government job into a higher-paying industry job. Some just want attention. They know that saying, “X will kill you,” gets more attention than saying that X is probably safe.