Senator Mark Warner (D-VA)
2nd-term Democrat from Virginia.
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Letters To Leaders
All messages are published with permission of the sender. The general topic of this message is Agriculture/Food:
What are you doing to stop the poisoning of Americans?

Sen. Mark Warner
Sen. Tim Kaine

March 19, 2013

This is not a rant from a tree-hugging hippy or conspiracy theorist. It is a plea from a regular middle class worker and family man. Like a lot of Americans, I'm worried about my job security, paying the mortgage and saving for college for my 9-year old daughter. I have the day off work today to take my wife to a radiologist for a mammogram, and I can only hope the news we get there is better than we fear. The fact that at the age of 42 I feel compelled to use the free time I have on my hands this morning to write congress for the first time should tell you how strongly I feel on this subject, so please read the following with patience and consideration. And as you do so, think of the day you took your oath of office for the first time, and the pride your family had in you as they smiled on during that ceremony watching you embark on a life dedicated to public service.

Government agriculture policy since the Butz era of the Nixon administration has had a subversive effect on our entire food chain, and a devastating effect on the health of a nation. The industrialized scale of modern farming yielded by Farm Bill subsidies has not only all but eliminated the traditional family farmer, it has created massive herds of disease ridden animals whose survival depends on antibiotics, and the growing of mono cultural crops that must also rely on chemical intervention by humans to fight off nature's response to any plant or animal that threatens to dominate an ecosystem which is to attack it.

The environmental destruction and cruelty to animals kept in barbaric feed lots are only the beginning of the story. Chickens are fattened in half the natural time, so quickly in fact that their legs are unable to support their own body weight. They are fed a diet of high fructose corn syrup produced for pennies by genetically modified seeds that withstand the liberal spraying of Round Up needed for them to survive growing on massive scales without any plant diversity to protect them. The next victim in the food chain are our fellow citizens, our friends and family. When government policy results in chicken nuggets being cheaper than an apple, which do you think a poor mother struggling to feed her kids is going to put in her shopping cart? And all we have to do is look at a movie from the 60's or early 70's with a street scene to know that the body shape of America was very different than it is now. Obesity and diabetes are at epidemic levels. Have you ever met a really fat 85 year old? I didn't think so. They don't exist. With all due respect to the First Lady, blaming kids for not exercising or Mom's for not providing healthy, nutritious meals is really whistling past the graveyard. What has to change are the government policies that have lead to our supermarkets essentially becoming death-traps.

With all the policy debates over health care, why was so little attention given to the elephant in the room, viz. what is making America sicker and driving health care costs up to unsustainable levels? We all know the answer to that, as the deep pockets of Monsanto, Tyson Foods, Con Agra and Dow Chemical have stymied debate and any action that threatens the very profitable status quo.

I would appeal to your conscience to examine for yourself the facts surrounding food policy, industrialized farming, environmental destruction, animal cruelty and the socio-economic factors affecting diet and health outcomes. Until I see those seeking my vote not only show interest but also demonstrate activity to address the most imminent and compelling threat facing the well being of our nation, I will not support them. I will happily cast my vote for whatever candidate convinces me that this is a genuine priority for them, no matter how unelectable they appear. I'm confident that this is the only way that regular folks like me can hope to influence the system, even if it takes a generation to make a change. I'll take great pride in watching candidates go from getting 1% of the vote, to 2% of the vote, and eventually get to the 10% level when establishment candidates like yourself will begin to take notice. Rather than waiting until it's politically expedient to do so, do any of you have the courage to take up this issue sooner because it's not only the right thing to do, it has the potential to deliver the type of transformative change that will be remembered by history?

Please think back on the proud, smiling faces of your family that first day you swore an oath of office, and the faith and hope they saw in you. Remember their faces when you face the choice between jeopardizing that committee seat and saving lives. Remember their faces when the choice is between a campaign contribution and the premature death of an American child whose only mistake was having the misfortune of being born during a period in history when her government's food policies betrayed her.

I thank you for your consideration and service. I look forward to monitoring your voting record in this area from this day forward.

Falls Church , VA