Talking to Candidates: Can a Constitutional Amendment address Food System Issues?



Food Vote 2012: National U.S. Survey
Survey of “community food and farm” leaders and other U.S. residents
Aug. 14 – Nov. 6, 2012
Blog #8: Talking to Candidates on Issues: Constitutional amendments that might address systemic FOOD issues

Thanks to Georgia, Nevada, and New Hampshire for responding. Ten states are still unheard from in this survey (see list below).

A. BASIC SURVEY DATA AS OF OCTOBER 23, 2012

Total # of responses: 178
# of States Responding: 40 + Washington, DC
No responses yet from: Delaware Kansas Mississippi Nebraska New Jersey Rhode Island South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Wyoming
# of Congressional Food candidates identified and vetted: 2
Earl Blumenauer – Oregon
Tulsi Gabbard – Hawaii

B. TALKING TO CANDIDATES: Constitutional amendments that might address systemic FOOD issues

Past blogs have addressed high-impact leverage points in (1) federal policy and (2) collective actions (e.g., Food Day). Today’s blog looks at the responses about Constitutional amendments that might address systemic FOOD issues. Here is the question:

Question #12. Some people think that FOOD issues are so complicated and systemic that only a Constitutional amendment can address the multiplicity and structural aspects of FOOD concerns.

What amendment to the U.S. Constitution would you promote as having the biggest and most long-lasting positive impact on addressing the many food concerns that people have?

So far, the top vote-getter is:
Right to habitat, food, water, healthcare, education, etc.: Expand Bill of Rights to include more concrete language regarding “general welfare” or “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” (67 people, 54.9% of the respondents)

See complete vote totals on other proposed Constitutional amendments and alternative suggestions by individual respondents.

Thanks to all respondents and for all the comments.
NEXT BLOG (Friday): Because the election is getting closer and closer, Friday I will send out another list of issues for Talking to Candidates. It will include some of the many, many responses that I received in answer to Question #6: What FOOD campaign promise would earn your vote on November 6, no matter who the candidate or what the other issues?

TALKING TO CANDIDATES: Constitutional amendments that might address systemic FOOD issues

Question #12. Some people think that FOOD issues are so complicated and systemic that only a Constitutional amendment can address the multiplicity and structural aspects of FOOD concerns.

What amendment to the U.S. Constitution would you promote as having the biggest and most long-lasting positive impact on addressing the many food concerns that people have? Check all that apply.

Here is a list of high-impact Constitutional amendments that might address systemic FOOD issues (listed from most popular to least, as of October 23, 2012). See below for suggested alternatives by individual respondents.

SURVEY suggestions for Constitutional amendments
1. Right to habitat, food, water, healthcare, education, etc.: Expand Bill of Rights to include more concrete language regarding “general welfare” or “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”
54.9% 67

2. Public control of money supply, banking system (e.g., public banks, local currencies): Clarify, institutionalize, and safeguard
53.3% 65

3. National agricultural land use standard: Adopt food production as a right
51.6% 63

4. Governmental transparency principles (open meetings, easy access to information, etc.) as a Constitutional right: Adopt and applied to all government levels
28.7% 35

5. U.S. commons, accessible by all: Define
20.5% 25

6. None
14.8% 18

7. Personhood as relates to guaranteed individual rights applied to living, breathing organisms (not corporations, institutions, etc.): Define personhood
14.8% 18

8. National “grandparents” food council (elected, minimum age 50 years): Create
10.7% 13

9. National “grandmothers” council (elected, minimum age 50 years) with approval authority over military appropriations, deployment of U.S. troops outside of the U.S., and war declaration: Create
10.7% 13

10. Other (please specify)
9.8% 12

OTHER suggestions for Constitutional amendments by individual respondents

1. Actual recommendations for Constitutional amendments

— Use language from the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights (to establish the right to healthy foods, etc.)

— “Neither the Congress, nor any State, may make any law regulating the production and eating of food.”

— Again, Campaign finance reform

— I don’t agree with this recent push to amend the constitution. Can’t we do this with fixing and creating laws? I do think we need to fix the problem of corporate personhood. If the Supreme Court is the last way to repeal this than clarifying the definition of personhood as live people in the constitution is needed.

— Right to habitat, food, water, etc is the TOP choice

— Right to Food! We should begin by ratifying the Universal Charter on Economic and Social Rights, which includes the Right to Food, and then we should hold the US accountable to its human rights commitments. The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter, has done an excellent job of showing that the right to food means food justice, community food security, and food sovereignty. Achieving action on human rights is far more likely than creating a new constitutional amendment.

2. Statements against Constitutional amendments addressing FOOD issues

— I don’t think a constitutional amendment is the right direction to go in. There is SO much that can be done within our existing political structures and with our current Constitution as is. When I think of barriers to improvement in Food issues, I do not believe that the U.S. Constitution as one of those barriers.

— The is not a constitutional amendment, but a decision of law. In patent law, the decision that life forms can be patented is absurd. It should be overturned. This would solve the current biotech obsession with controlling our food supply.

— I don’t believe that the adoption of a constitutional amendment or several is going to solve the problem. I think it is the REPEAL of executive orders and laws illegally enacted that must be addressed and the states taking their sovereignty seriously by taking a more aggressive role instead of deferring to the federal gov’t. End the Fed, repeal Food Safety Modernization Act (or amend), eliminate funding for Homeland Security, repeal fracking authorization, stop the revolving door at FDA, EPA, SEC with big industry, stop gutting FAERS and mandating vaccines, demand GMO labeling, etc. Our grandparents are too removed from a healthy food supply for that to be much help – they’re pretty well saturated in the failed low fat heart health paradigm. Grandmas running the pentagon could prove very beneficial,though.

— Our political process is in no condition to start messing with the Constitution. That seems to me to be asking for serious trouble. Let it stand.

— I don’t think amending the Constitution is a good solution