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JAMA 100 Years Ago
December 15, 2004


Author Affiliations

JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.

JAMA. 2004;292(23):2926. doi:10.1001/jama.292.23.2926-c

President Roosevelt’s message is notable among similar documents for the attention which it gives to matters bordering on medical and sanitary science. As medical men we can heartily approve what he says in regard to the dangers of urban concentration and crowded tenement districts, child labor, etc., but we wish that he had made insistent mention of the importance of passing the pure-food bill left over by the previous session, and really the most important measure now before Congress. The poisoning of the population for profit by mercenary manufacturers is in its way a much more vital question than any mentioned in the message. We do not know what the program of the Congressional leaders is. It is said by newspapers, with what truth and authority we know not, that, beyond the passage of the usual ordinary and extraordinary appropriation bills and some special colonial legislation, little will be done. If such is likely to be the case, it will be well for the medical profession to use its best efforts to insure the inclusion in that little of the passage of this salutary act. There should be no difficulty, but as we know there are powerful influences working against it, and unless every effort is made against them, they may succeed. We spoke at some length on this point last spring and gave the bill in full. The latest suggestion on the prospects of the bill is that its provisions may be limited to apply only to pharmacopeial preparations, and that in such case the powerful antagonism of the nostrum manufacturers will be removed and the bill easily pass. It is a reflection on Congress that such a statement can be made, but the power of moneyed interests over our lawmakers has been too often exposed to require any beating about the bush in the discussion of the subject. It remains to be seen what the individual members of the profession have done and will do. During the long time that has elapsed since the bill came before Congress there has been ample time for each physician to let his representative in Congress know of the feeling of the local profession on the subject, and to emphasize the great economic and hygienic importance of the bill. There remains time now to exert pressure, and thereby to favor good legislation, to protect those who are daily being injured by impure foods, and incidentally to show the interest of the profession in public welfare.

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