Wednesday, December 01, 2010

FoodUSA: New law: Senate resisted a year, now House of Reps accepts Senate new version, and off it goes to the Prez's desk

Washington Post carries a detailed article by Lindsey Layton,  Senate passes sweeping food safety bill" (Nov30,2k10).

The Senate on Tuesday approved the biggest overhaul to the nation's food safety laws since the 1930s. The 73-to-25 vote gives vast new authorities to the Food and Drug Administration, places new responsibilities on farmers and food companies to prevent contamination, and -- for the first time - sets safety standards for imported foods, a growing part of the American diet.
The name in the forefront of the opposition is that of Glenn Beck who seems to hate the very idea of a Food and Drug Administration.  I don't.

But other perspectives are more telling -- "small farmers" who reporter Layton in WaPo mistakenly subsumes to the quarrel between "burgeoning local-food market" over against "major agriculture businesses."  I don't use the category  "snall farmer" and prefer instead "family farmer."  The chief concern of this appraoch is to choose for exemption those farmers who live on their land and have a more-than-hobbyist interest in the quality of their products / commodities in the marketplace.  But undoubtedly the new legislation contains a definition of "small farmer," where the absolute s+z of acreage is not the issue as such.  Why jettison "family" in the terminology?  Becawz bachelors may be owning and operating a farm, before they start their own families (or remain single)?  Or becawz the appearance of the word "family" in the formulation of the key concept of the new law m+t bring down the rage of anti-family lobbyists?  It's difficult to know in this day and age.

The opposition to "the burgeoning local-food movement," "small farmers," "family farmers," and any truly deserving of the exemption proposed by Sen Jon Tester (D, Montana) is Produce Marketing Association and United Fresh Produce Association who "withdrew their support" for the House version, upon Sen Tester's amendment.  Senator Tester is a farmer.

"Food illnesses affect one in four Americans and kill 5,000 of them each year, according to government statistics. Tainted food has cost the industry billions of dollars in recalls, lost sales and legal expenses."  I tend to think that the big b+t will come when FDA follows the new standards set now for imported foods which will insist that food importers "verify that products grown and processed overseas meet safety standards."

Another take supplies some further details.  Says the email newsletter of DC Morning:

The Food Safety Modernization Act "would allow the FDA to mandate that a company recall a food product it suspects is infected," writes The Daily Caller's Matt Boyle. "The bill also expands the FDA’s inspection powers, and would force food producers to open their production facilities to more FDA inspections officers and follow new in-depth inspection procedures." Thanks to an amendment exempting farms that make less than $500,000 from stepped-up inspections, the bill is likely to pass. But at least one person is worried about the expansion of the FDA's power. “I think over time the powers given by the bill could possibly whittle away at the protection provided by [the amendment]," said Pete Kennedy, the president of the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund. "[The FDA] will have broad power, and unfortunately under their existing power, what we see right now they seem to have three particular targets, which are raw milk, raw cheese, and supplements.” In case you're curious, here's what it looks like when the FDA decides to exercise its enforcement powers. 
-- EconoMix

No comments: