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Nutrition Commencement Speaker Announced

Nutrition Commencement Speaker AnnouncedDan Glickman -- the former Secretary of Agriculture in the Clinton Administration -- will deliver an address to graduates of the country's only independent graduate school of nutrition.

Boston [03.27.02] While head of the United States Department of Agriculture and member of President Clinton's cabinet, Dan Glickman shaped policy on everything from food safety to nutrition to environmental protection. On May 19, Glickman will call on that experience as he addresses graduates of Tufts' Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.

The only independent graduate school of nutrition, Tufts' Nutrition School produces graduates with expertise in a wide range of fields. Under the umbrella of one school, they study a huge range of topics from humanitarian assistance, sustainable agriculture, food and nutrition policy, nutrition communications as well as the biochemical, physiological, cellular and molecular processes in nutrition as they apply to human life.

Currently a partner at a Washington public law and policy firm, Glickman spent six years at the helm of the USDA. Under his leadership, the department modernized food safety regulations, forged international trade agreements to expand U.S. markets, and improved its commitment to fairness and equality in civil rights.

Prior to taking his post in the Clinton Administration, Glickman served as a Congressman for 18 years, representing Kansas' 4th Congressional District. Focused on food safety and the role of biotechnology while Secretary of Agriculture, Glickman also co-chaired the Presidential Food Safety Council.

According to Glickman, the current system for protecting food in the U.S. needs a major overhaul.

"If the current system did not exist and we started from scratch to put together a food safety system .. few of us would design one to look like the structure that has evolved over the last century," he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in October.

The events of Sept. 11, he said, have uncovered weaknesses that must be addressed quickly.

"The Department of Agriculture has joined with the other agencies under the rubric of the National Security Council to engage in an interagency process to do our best, to provide the resources that we need to protect our water and our food," he told CNN. "But it is going to take more resources. This is something that we cannot rest on our laurels about. We take for granted this wonderful and bountiful food supply that we have."

Glickman has first-hand experience dealing with potential threats to the U.S. food supply, including last year's outbreak of foot and mouth disease.

The former Congressman says the U.S. needs to remain focused on improving and expanding the system that protects the food supply.

"When we didn't have movement of people between borders or animals as much between borders, it wasn't as much of a problem. But I think, in the future, it is going to get more complicated," he told CNN in March of 2001. "I would say that we in our country have the most exceptional public safety system in terms of food safety in the world. We just have to keep it that way."

One of the other growing concerns for the USDA, Glickman says, is managing the expansion of biotechnology, which became a major issue while he was at the helm of the department.

"In 1999, with European resistance to modified food mounting and a de facto moratorium on new approvals of crops taking shape on the continent, Glickman broke ranks," reported the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "He had grown concerned that the U.S. government was pushing genetic engineering without taking stock of consumer worries. American farmers, he worried, could be left in the lurch."

When he left the USDA in 2001, Glickman warned his replacement -- Ann Veneman -- that the debate was far from over.

"Biotechnology is going to be thrust on her, as Dick Cheney would say, big time," he told the Post-Dispatch. "Whether she wants it or not, it will be on her, like it was on me -- big time."

But one of his greatest accomplishments may have come in the last few months before he stepped down, as Glickman helped President Clinton implement one of the most sweeping environmental protection plans of the last century -- protecting over 60 million acres of national forests from logging and mining.

"Our national forests are a precious national environmental treasure that we must preserve for future generations," he told the Washington Post when the plan was announced.

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