Most Americans across the political spectrum would like to see more government regulation of food safety and food quality, suggests a new study published in the journal Food Policy.
Jayson Lusk of Oklahoma State University’s Department of Agricultural Economics examined data from a survey of more than 700 Americans. He found that although food regulation ideology was related to political ideology, the relationship was “far from determinative, suggesting food ideology represents a unique construct in its own right.”
Lusk found that most of the nationally representative sample were “food statists”, meaning that they would prefer more government regulation.
“Our results suggest people are more “pro-regulation” particularly with respect to food safety issues than with other general issues in the economy,” he wrote, “However, people tended to favor additional government regulation on general issues such as education, immigration, and jobs than they did with respect to food health and quality issues.”
In general, the research found that attitudes toward food policy were related to traditional political ideologies, with self-described liberals preferring more of all types of food regulation compared to self-described conservatives. Republicans and Tea Party members, meanwhile, tended to want less food safety and food health and quality regulation compared to Democrats.
However, 64% of those surveyed said they wanted more government involvement in regulating both food safety and food quality – while just 5% were “food libertarian”, wanting less government regulation in both areas.
Lusk added that public opinion of food-related policy tends to have little bearing on actual food and farm policy, and is more often considered to be relatively unimportant.
“Nevertheless, the fact that food and farm policy issues have been taken up by the First Lady and are now routinely discussed in the pages of best-selling books and mainstream newspapers suggests that public opinion might have marginally more impact than in the past,” he wrote.
Source: Food Policy
Vol. 37, Iss. 5, October 2012, pp. 530-542, ISSN 0306-9192, 10.1016/j.foodpol.2012.05.002
“The political ideology of food”
Author: Jayson L. Lusk