COLUMBUS, Ohio – Food allergies, diabetes and cancer are among the growing health concerns for Ohio families, and a best selling author and mother says the nation’s “sick” food system is partly to blame.
Robyn O’Brien, director of the AllergyKids Foundation, is scheduled to speak about the issue at an upcoming event in Ohio. She says rising rates of diseases are increasing health care costs and giving today’s children the reputation of “Generation Rx.”
O’Brien believes it’s all connected to the use of genetically-engineered ingredients in food.
“People are really struggling in a way that we weren’t 50 years ago,” she stresses. “And all families are being impacted – regardless of what side of the aisle we’re on, regardless of where we live – and it’s becoming one of the biggest issues we face as a country.”
One in 13 children in the U.S. has a food allergy; nearly 1 in 4 people under age 20 are estimated to have diabetes; and cancer is the leading cause of disease-related death under age 15.
O’Brien contends that healing the food supply can protect the nation’s health.
She’ll deliver the keynote address Feb. 11 at the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association conference in Dayton.
Genetically-engineered ingredients are said to be found in 80 percent of processed foods sold in the U.S. And O’Brien says other parts of the world have placed a higher value on people’s dietary health.
“Other countries tend to exercise precautions,” she states. “They do not allow things into the food system until they have been proven safe where we take an approach and we say, you know, ‘It’s not yet been proven dangerous, so we’ll allow it.'”
O’Brien notes that with growing demand for organic products, many food companies are stepping up and working to eliminate artificial ingredients. But she says the farmer’s role in creating a healthier food system needs to be elevated.
“Our biggest constraint is that about 1 percent of our farmland in the United States is organic, and we have a bottleneck,” she points out. “So, what can we do, how can we have these conversations, how can the farmers’ voices be heard? What can companies do to support the farmers? Because our federal policy is sort of stuck in 1995.”