“That is quite a correction in today’s Times to Mark Bittman’s column the other day about sugar and diabetes,” notes Ira Stoll. Bittman’s column began with the striking opener “Sugar is indeed toxic” and went on to promote a far-reaching regulatory crackdown on sweetened foods. But it soon came under sustained attack from various commentators (more) for misstating recent findings about the health effects of sugar in the diet; it’s true that sugar intake tends to cause obesity and obesity itself causes diabetes, but it’s a separate, unresolved question whether sugar by itself instigates diabetes through some mechanism of action not common to other highly caloric foods.
Here is the correction:
Mark Bittman’s column on Thursday incorrectly described findings from a recent epidemiological study of the relationship of sugar consumption to diabetes. The study found that increased sugar in a population’s food supply was linked to higher rates of diabetes — independent of obesity rates — but stopped short of stating that sugar caused diabetes. It did not find that “obesity doesn’t cause diabetes: sugar does.” Obesity is, in fact, a major risk factor for Type 2 diabetes, as the study noted.
The California proposition [earlier here, here, and here] is now running into a wave of disapproving editorials in California newspapers, including the Sacramento Bee. Tyler Cowen administers a well deserved rebuke to tendentious NYT food-policy columnist Mark Bittman [Marginal Revolution and followup] Also check out the analysis by Jonathan Adler ["How Not to Label Biotech Foods," New Atlantis] and Baylen Linnekin ["California's GMO Labeling Law Isn't the Answer," Reason] And in California Political Review, John Hrabe notes my Daily Caller piece in the course of observations about the ambition of some Californians to play regulator to the world. (& Matt Bogard)
Somewhat relatedly, it is now clear that Vitamin-A-laden golden rice could fight child blindness arising from nutritional deficiency in the underdeveloped world; alas, it’s being held back by Greenpeace anti-GMO efforts [Margaret Wente/Toronto Globe and Mail; Art Caplan, NBC]
At the New York Times, Mark Bittman has proved a durable source of entertainment twice over, first as a purveyor of recipes with a high hit rate of being worth trying, and more recently with a laughably paternalistic opinion column. [David Boaz/Cato, Damon Root/Reason, earlier]
I’ve got a food policy roundup at Cato that tries to answer such questions as:
* Has FDA’s regulatory zeal finally met its match in the foodie zeal of cheese-makers and -fanciers who are beginning to insist on their right to make and enjoy cheeses similar to those in France, even if they pose a nonzero though tiny bacterial risk?
* How annoying is it that Mark Bittman would stop writing a great food column in the NYT in order to start writing an inevitably wrongheaded politics-of-food column?
* Is Wal-Mart secretly smiling after First Lady Michelle Obama publicly twisted its arm to do various things it was probably considering anyway, along with some things it definitely wanted to do, such as opening more stores in poor urban neighborhoods?
Related: Led by past Overlawyered guest-blogger Baylen Linnekin, Keep Food Legal bills itself as “The first and only nationwide membership organization devoted to culinary freedom.” 11 Points has compiled a list of “11 Foods and Drinks Banned in the United States.” And GetReligion.org has more on the “shadowy community of outlaw Amish and Mennonite dairy farmers” portrayed in several recent press reports.