Why Federal Dietary Guidelines Should Acknowledge the Food-Choice / Environment Nexus: Examining the Recommendation to Eat More Seafood

36 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2012 Last revised: 5 Jul 2014

Nell Green Nylen

Wheeler Institute for Water Law & Policy, Berkeley Law

Abstract

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and all federal programs and activities that flow from them (for example, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, and the National School Lunch Program), should integrate environmental sustainability considerations into policy development and on-the-ground implementation. While federal dietary advice is nonbinding on the American public, it is a policy vehicle intended to have specific, significant effects on the food choices of several hundred million people. These effects translate into significant foreseeable environmental impacts that should be taken into consideration under the National Environmental Policy Act in deciding what advice to give and precisely how to frame it. Currently, this does not happen, and the result is nutritional recommendations that are blindered to their actual impacts. For example, the 2010 Guidelines recommend that Americans more than double their average intake of seafood but fail to include guidance about — or even to acknowledge — the relative environmental impacts of different seafood choices. This is both irresponsible and, in the slightly longer term, self-defeating: Overfishing and habitat destruction today contribute to seafood scarcity and food insecurity tomorrow. We cannot afford to continue to ignore the unintended environmental consequences of federal dietary advice.

Keywords: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, seafood, overfishing, fish, environmental impact, fisheries management, NEPA recommendations

JEL Classification: I12, I18, K32, Q18, Q22, Q28

Suggested Citation

Green Nylen, Nell, Why Federal Dietary Guidelines Should Acknowledge the Food-Choice / Environment Nexus: Examining the Recommendation to Eat More Seafood. Ecology Law Quarterly, Vol. 40, No. 4, 759–794, 2013. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2048901 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2048901

Nell Green Nylen (Contact Author)

Wheeler Institute for Water Law & Policy, Berkeley Law

2850 Telegraph Ave.
Suite 500
Berkeley, CA 94705
United States

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