The resignation of Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy (Oct. 4) represents more than a personal tragedy for a dedicated public servant and a political liability for the President. It represents the latest victory by the meat industry in its relentless battle against the public interest and a form of retribution for Espy's insistence on improved meat inspection and consumer-warning labels on raw meat and poultry products.
This is reminiscent of the flap over the celebrated McGovern report, which ushered in the government's current involvement in dietary guidelines. In February, 1977, following extensive testimony from hundreds of health experts, the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs published "Dietary Goals for the United States," recommending that Americans reduce their consumption of meat. At an extraordinary public hearing demanded by the meat industry, industry officials told committee chair Sen. George McGovern (D-S.D.) that his committee would be dissolved and that he would not be reelected. They made good on both promises and the political impact lingers on.