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Petition aims to have Schmidt removed from advisory board
By BRUCE HOTCHKISS
(April 23, 2013) The politics of food, a 21st century phenomenon which has caused dissention in the highest levels of governance of the national Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, has dragged a Queen Anne’s County farm wife back into the national spotlight.
She is Jennie Schmidt of Sudlersville, Md., a registered dietician, a well-known agricultural advocate and a national finalist in the 2011 Farm Mom of the Year contest.
The contest, sponsored annually by Monsanto, awarded Schmidt $5,000 for her placement. Enter: The politics of food.
An online petition is circulating to remove Schmidt and another dietitian from an advisory committee of the academy for alleged bias in favor of genetically modified seeds.
Monsanto, the nation’s largest agricultural biochemical corporation, brought American farmers the genetically modified Roundup Ready soybean.
In 2010, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics — often referred to by its acronym, AND — appointed seven members to serve on the Advanced Technologies and Food Production work group.
Among its assignments was to review, for to the AND board, the rising tide of debate about food containing GMO ingredients.
Among the seven invited to serve on the work group were Schmidt; Marianne Smith Edge, senior vice president of the International Food Information Council; and Carole Bartolotto, who runs a Healthy Eating Consulting Service, and is a senior health consultant at Kaiser Permanente in Pasadena, Calif.
When the academy dismissed Bartolotto for allegedly not disclosing the consulting service, she pointed a finger at both Schmidt and Smith Edge — Schmidt for the Monsanto connections, and Smith Edge because the International Food Information Council allegedly receives major support from large agribusinesses, some of which were the largest financial contributors to the defeat of the California labeling initiative.
AND replied officially to Bartolotto that “conflict of interest will not eliminate a candidate from a eligible appointment.”
Schmidt learned of Bartolotto’s accusations in a story in The New York Times, which, she said, contained incorrect information and for which she was never contacted by the reporter.
She responded in her “Foodie Farmer” blog, She wrote in part:
“So what I did do was fully disclose all of our family farm’s business associations with seed companies, chemical companies, commodity groups, and national and regional agri-businesses on the disclosure form for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
“I don’t personally have direct dealings with all of them, but I knew that if I did not list them all, that something like this would happen. Lo and behold ... it did.
“Did anyone else feel obligated to disclose where they purchase supplies for their business? (By the way, I buy my paper from Staples, and this computer came from CompUSA. I buy groceries at Food Lion and shop at Tractor Supply for my clothes... I’m a farm girl not a fashionista.)
“I also listed the prize money I won for being chosen as one of America’s Farmers Moms of the Year. I did not disclose that the funds went into my kids’ college funds and to local non-profits including my church food pantry. Shame on me!”
Asked last week if she intended to continue to serve on the advisory work group, Schmidt indicated that stepping down had never entered her mind.
“I could not do that,” she said. “Where would we be if people simply caved in? Sure, it’s easy to walk away but then we’d be sacrificing the voice (for agriculture) that we need.”
Schmidt is the wife of Hans Schmidt, a prominent grain and soybean farmer.The couple has two children.
Schmidt, who manages the vineyard on the family farm, is the founder and owner of Schmidt Vineyard Management and an active member of CommonGround.