On Oct. 28, Richard Raymond, the former Undersecretary for Food Safety at USDA, wrote a short piece about industrial agriculture, food safety, the recent Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) report about industrial livestock production, and (allegedly, although not really) feeding the world. In this op-ed, he took pains to characterize the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future as “incensed” and suggested that CLF is wrong on points of fact. Sigh. I will grant him some keen insights regarding the inefficiencies and embarrassing displays by this Congress. As for the rest of it, I could rebut at length. But we’ve been there, done that. Ditto for Consumer Reports, the Pew Health Group, and a former FDA commissioner. Instead of dignifying with a response this collage of misrepresentations, I will turn to Food Safety News readers. They comprise a very astute — and incisive — readership, indeed. Here are some of my favorite excerpts: From farmber: “Choice is great Doc! But unless there’s a transparent system behind it all then it really just comes down to marketing claims and ploys.” From Shelley Powers: “If we did eat much less meat, we could then afford to buy better quality meat from smaller farmers and smaller producers. These same producers can then afford to implement more safety procedures, and the farmers use more humane and healthier livestock practices. Once we attack the assumption that the food system in the US has to continue with the same output, or more, everything else changes. And therein lies my criticism of Dr. Raymond’s defense of “modern” livestock and farming practices. He wants to maintain the status quo; I want to us to do better. From Nic Parton: “I don’t believe Dr. Raymond really wants “all parties at the table.” Small-scale producers get an off-hand mention near the end of his article, implying that sustainable farming practices are too expensive for the average American. Well, meat is expensive. Especially meat raised on high-quality grain, instead of grass (which is, incidentally, what the “Corn Belt” would naturally be if it were not over-farmed in monoculture).” From Colleen Galvin: “If we stopped inefficiently funneling all the grains and soybeans through animals to feed the few, we would have more plant-based foods to feed all. All would be fed, not just the people rich enough to purchase animal flesh; a gross waste of our universal resources like water and land.” From justic4all: “The faulty assumption in this article is that we need to be producing the tremendous amount of meat that we do. Most people eat FAR more than the recommended amount of meat per day/week — and not enough vegetable and plant matter.” Thank you very much, farmber, Shelley, Nic, Colleen, and justic4all. You’ve said it very well.