In 1974, Senator Harkin (Ret.) was elected to Congress from Iowa’s Fifth Congressional District. After serving 10 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, Senator Harkin challenged an incumbent Senator and won. Iowans returned him to the Senate in 1990, 1996 and again in 2002. In November 2008, Senator Harkin made history by becoming the first Iowa Democrat to win a fifth term in the U.S. Senate. Senator Harkin retired from the United States Senate in January, 2015.
In 1991, Senator Harkin created the Office of Alternative Medicine at NIH. That Office, whose charge is to examine the efficacy of alternative and complementary therapies, is now the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

Senator Harkin and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) were the co-authors of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) in 1994. During Senator Harkin’s tenure in the Senate, he consistently worked to make certain the DSHEA was implemented fairly and without bias by the Food and Drug Administration.

Senator Harkin pushed for funding for NIH’s Office of Dietary Supplements, which was created by DSHEA and funded through the Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee where he served as chair or ranking member since DSHEA became law.

Senator Harkin pushed the FDA to issue regulations to institute Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) for the dietary supplement industry, and worked with his Senate colleagues and the dietary supplement industry to craft legislation creating a Serious Adverse Event Reporting System for dietary supplements.

As the chair of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pension, Senator Harkin helped to lead passage of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 and authored the law’s many prevention provisions. This landmark reform included a whole array of provisions to jumpstart the transition from our current sick care system to a genuine health care system – something that Senator Harkin has championed for many years.

In 2010, Senator Harkin worked on the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act. Senator Harkin fought hard to give USDA authority to establish national school nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools – not just foods sold in the lunch room, but also foods sold in vending machines, school snack bars, and a la carte lines. Senator Harkin believes the USDA’s expanded authority will make a very real difference in combatting the twin epidemic of childhood obesity and adult-onset diabetes in children.

In 2011, Senator Harkin joined with other long-time friends of the industry to form the Congressional Dietary Supplement Caucus. This caucus is an informal, bipartisan group with a simple goal: to facilitate discussions among lawmakers about the benefits of dietary supplements, and to promote research into the health-care cost savings these products provide.

Harkin was born in Cumming, Iowa (pop. 150) on November 19, 1939, the son of an Iowa coal miner father and a Slovenian immigrant mother. To this day, he still lives in the house in Cumming where he was born. In 1968, Tom married Ruth Raduenz, the daughter of a farmer and a school teacher from Minnesota. Tom and Ruth have two daughters, Amy and Jenny, and three grandchildren


July 19, 2018

10:20 AM  -  11:20 AM

Palos Verdes Ballrooms 4&5

The Power of the Plant

The natural products industry has an important relationship with agriculture, but remains in many cases peripherally involved in the science and government policy that influences the farms that grow food and ingredients. This panel will explore new ways agricultural innovation could influence the nutrition industry and opportunities for the nutrition industry to get involved in … Continued

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