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Food Safety News

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President to Sign Food Safety Bill in Early 2011

Ending out the anything-but-lame duck session, President Obama signed several bills into law on Wednesday, but the sweeping food safety bill approved by Congress Tuesday was not among them. The bill will likely not be signed into law until the President returns in early 2011 from a holiday vacation with his family in Hawaii.

The new food safety law will give FDA expanded authority over approximately 80 percent

of the food supply–not including USDA-regulated meat and poultry

products–by giving the agency mandatory recall powers and expanded

access to records.  It also requires growers and food facilities to

implement food safety plans and stipulates that foreign facilities

importing food to the U.S. must meet the same standards.

President Obama praised Congress this week for an exceptionally active lame duck session.

“I think it’s fair to say this has been the most productive post-election period we’ve had in decades, and it comes on the heels of the most productive two years we’ve had in generations,” said President Obama Wednesday.

Among a bevy of bills signed into law, the president signed the historic repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ “This is the right thing to do for our security. And it is the right thing to do, period,” said Obama.

In his remarks, Obama also lauded the food safety bill as a major achievement. “In addition, we came together across party lines to pass a food safety bill – the biggest upgrade of America’s food safety laws since the Great Depression,” said the president.

“Food is obviously close to our hearts,” said White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, in the daily White House briefing on Wednesday, adding that he did not know exactly when the President would sign the food safety bill.

For recent Food Safety News coverage on the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act:

Food Safety Bill Heads to President’s Desk December 22, 2010

© Food Safety News
  • This is great news, however, I think it should have gone further. Here, it’s almost 2011, and the USDA still refuses to test cattle in a way to find all mad cow disease cases and strains. The USDA, FDA, and the OIE have systematically failed the consumer in that regard, and from the looks of things, things are only going to get worse. …
    Saturday, December 18, 2010
    OIE Global Conference on Wildlife Animal Health and Biodiversity – Preparing for the Future (TSE AND PRIONS) Paris (France), 23-25 February 2011

  • doc raymond

    Good news, Bill, you won’t have to cut your own Hawaiian vacation short to attend the bill signing. Hmm are you going to be with the President in Hawaii?

  • LadyHawk

    When witnessing such a moment in history when the federal government greatly expands its power over an entire industry, it’s important to understand the Law of Unintended Consequences. Virtually everything bad that happens after a bill gets passed is due to this Law of Unintended Consequences.
    On the surface, the intention behind the food safety bill seems innocent enough: Let’s all protect the food supply and prevent people from getting sick due to e.coli and salmonella exposure. But the reality of the result that emerges from the law is quite different.
    Get ready for more dangerous, pesticide-ridden food from south of the border. Because the S.510 / HR 2751 food safety bill places an enormous new burden on U.S. farmers — yes, even small farms that are supposedly “exempt” — it’s going to drive many farmers out of business.
    It will also erect new barriers to farmers entering the food production business, and this is especially true for the small local farmers who grow food for local co-ops, farmers’ markets and CSA organizations (Community Supported Agriculture). What we’re going to see from all this, then, is the following:
    • A reduction in the available SUPPLY of fresh local produce.
    • A loss of local farming know-how and food sustainability.
    • The financial failure of CSAs, food co-ops and small local markets.
    • The loss of countless jobs that were related to local food production.
    • An INCREASE in the price of local food, especially organic food.
    Food safety bill does nothing to address food imports
    At the same time these huge regulatory burdens are thrust upon U.S. farmers, there are no new regulations required for food grown outside the United States.
    This means that food coming into the USA from Mexico, Chile, Peru or anywhere else does not have to meet S.510 food safety regulations at all. The FDA, after all, doesn’t inspect greenhouses in Mexico or grape farms in Chile which export their products to the United States.
    Furthermore, many dangerous chemical pesticides that have been banned in the USA are legal to use elsewhere, and foods treated with those pesticides are perfectly legal to import into the United States. So instead of buying food grown in the United States on small, organic farms, more U.S. consumers are going to be buying food grown elsewhere that’s treated with extremely toxic pesticides.
    Here are some of the unintended consequences of all this:
    • An INCREASE in the importation of fresh produce from other countries.
    • A worsening of the agricultural trade imbalance between the U.S. and other nations.
    • An INCREASE in the pesticide contamination of fresh produce sold at U.S. grocery stores.
    • An INCREASE in agriculture jobs in Mexico, Chile, Peru and elsewhere, even while agriculture jobs are lost in the USA.
    • A DECREASE in the overall safety of the food supply because now the proportion of foods imported from foreign countries with little or no regulatory oversight will greatly expand compared to U.S. grown foods.
    In effect, then, what Congress has done is impaired the competitiveness of U.S. farms, shifted farming jobs out of the country, increased the pesticide residues in fresh produce sold in U.S. grocery stores and harmed local food security and sustainability by driving small, local farmers out of business.
    Such is the nature of the Law of Unintended Consequences. And such is the nature of just about everything that Big Government tries to do when it threatens to “solve problems” by expanding its regulatory control over almost any industry.
    What Congress fails to understand is that we need food security far more than we need more FDA regulations. The knowledge base of local farmers who know how to grow, harvest and distribute food is far more valuable to the security of our nation than preventing a relatively small number of people from getting sick from e.coli each year (even if such a trade-off were a simplistic equation, which it isn’t). Because if we lose food security, then we become slaves to the big corporate food producers who are attempting to centralize food production and place food, seeds and crops under their absolute control.
    A cynic might even suggest that was the whole purpose of the food safety bill in the first place: To destroy small farmers and centralize food production power in the hands of a few wealthy corporations. Whether that was the intent or not, it is certainly going to be the effect.
    What Congress has done with this food safety bill, in effect, is to cripple America’s food production know-how and poison the population with far more dangerous pesticide-ridden produce that will now be imported from other countries instead. This bill should have been called the “Mexico Farming Jobs Act” because it’s going to shift countless jobs south of the border as farms in the USA realize they simply can’t operate under the immense burden of FDA regulatory tyranny.
    It all makes you wonder what the members of Congress are really thinking. Don’t they ever step back and attempt to consider the real-world ramifications of their actions?
    Time and time again, the U.S. government seems to do the opposite of what would reasonably be required to solve problems. Think about it: When the U.S. government wanted to stop Wall Street bankers and investment firms from wasting money, it simply handed them a few trillion dollars in new money so they could waste more.
    When the government wanted to end debt spending, it spent more debt money out of the foolish belief that you can somehow end your debt by going deeper into it.
    When the government claimed it would reduce your health care costs and cover everyone with health insurance, it passed a sick-care law that has only seen health care costs spiraling out of control while insurers cancel policies and end coverage for many children.
    And now, the government claims to be making your food safer even though the real impact of the new law will be to make your food far more dangerous while destroying U.S. farming jobs.
    This is why those who really know government also know that they who govern best govern the least. Instead of trying to “fix” all the nation’s problems by meddling with the actions of hard-working people trying to make a living (such as organic farmers), the government needs to simply get out of the way and let farmers produce their food without the heavy regulatory burden of the FDA — an agency that we know is frequently engaged in actions that can only be called criminal in nature.
    Get ready for skyrocketing food prices in 2011 – 2013. With the passage of this food safety bill, it is easy to predict skyrocketing food prices over the next two years. We will see fresh, local produce become increasingly more expensive and more difficult to acquire. Many local farmers will shutter their businesses, and farming know-how will be lost for perhaps a generation. The damage that will be done to America’s food security and agricultural base is incalculable.
    Such is the price we shall all pay for allowing our representatives in Washington to once again violate our Natural Right to grow food and exchange it for goods or cash with our neighbors. The reason this Natural Right was never even mentioned in the US Constitution, by the way, is because the right to grow your own food without government interference is such an obvious “Natural Right” (a God-given right, or a right that is self-evident) that our forefathers never imagined such a right would be infringed by the federal government.
    Or if a right were ever infringed by the federal government, our forefathers were certain that the citizens of the United States of America would exercise their other Constitutional rights to nullify the attempted overreaching authority of the federal government and thereby restore their freedoms. Sadly, such a solution does not work when the majority of the population is lulled into a false sense of freedom by a government that deliberately lies to them on a daily basis. Freedom does not exist with the vast majority of the population has no interest in defending it.
    Vegetable gardeners can learn something from marijuana growers
    Better buy yourself some heirloom seeds while you have the chance. Plant your stealth garden and cover it with camouflage so the government can’t see it and order you to destroy it. Soon, backyard vegetable gardeners will need to operate like marijuana growers and start hiding their food from government’s prying eyes.
    No doubt the U.S. federal government will start using spy satellites to identify “unregistered gardens” that will be targeted for termination. Soon, small farmers may even be raided by armed FDA agents who terrorize their operations and seize cabbages. Seriously.
    It sounds crazy today, I know. But a decade ago, no one thought the government would ever outlaw raw cow’s milk and arrest ranchers for selling milk to their neighbors, and that’s now happening on a regular basis.
    In five years, FDA farm raids may be routine. That is, if there’s anything left of the federal government (as we know it) in five years. I’m not sure how long they can keep up the financial house of cards, frankly. Always remember this enlightening fact: The entire federal government is just one paycheck away from collapse. I wonder how long FDA inspectors will keep harassing farmers if their paychecks stop? Remember, FDA employees have no loyalty to anything other than their paychecks. Once the money from Washington stops, the army of FDA mercenaries collapses virtually overnight.
    And the resilient farmers of America will win in the end, I have no doubt. If I had to choose to live on a deserted island with either ten North Carolina farmers or ten FDA bureaucrats, the choice would be a no-brainer. Farmers can keep you alive. FDA bureaucrats will only stab you in the back, steal your coconuts, and refuse to do any actual work on their own.
    They are, after all, parasites who feed on taxpayer dollars and lend nothing of value to society. If the FDA actually did anything useful at all, it would have banned mercury fillings to protect the public from mercury toxicity.

  • Big Blue

    Lady Hawk – Just want you to know tens of millions of Americans strongly agree with you. The only problem is corporate America paying off congress to pass laws favorable to them (at our expense) is a difficult force to overcome. This food safety bill is an utter atrocity but what can we do to keep the small, local organic farms in business? It pains me deeply that corporate greed coupled with government incompetence leads us to this crap while claiming they are doing this for our health. It’s disgusting.

  • JM

    Lady Hawk: There are limited exemptions provided for small farms (<$500K/Year annual sales)with limited distribution (<275 miles). That said, this bill is at best an over reach by the Feds that will NOT likely result in safer food despite the additional burdensome regulation. This additional regulation WILL result in the government, and those that influence the government, having more control over the food supply.

  • logcabin

    I also do not like our food being put under homeland security. Why, so people growing there own garden can go to jail. My husband went in to pay are property tax and at the town hall that was what people were talking about. The food safety bill is a direct hit to the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. They are taking more and more of our rights away, Greed has destroyed the middle class, when do we start to do something about it. I think the guy on hunt for red october said it best, a revolution every now and then is a good thing. mw

  • rp steran

    Just one more things to give the government control….they are not happy unless they have total control even with what we eat or produce in our own gardens…where does this stop….it is about the few wealthiest having to have the power…check and see if the Bilderberg group hasn’t had this in their plans all along

  • Michael Bulger

    Lady Hawk:
    I stopped reading your comment after I got to the part where you said that the bill does not deal with imports. You obviously have not familiarized yourself with the bill.
    If you get a chance to actually read the law (in between hurling derisions), I suggest you examine “TITLE III—IMPROVING THE SAFETY OF IMPORTED FOOD”.
    It deals at length with increasing standards on imported foods and inspecting foreign facilities.