The House Agriculture Committee Thursday approved an agenda of oversight hearings that covers a broad range of issues, from the Farm Bill to international food aid.
The 9-page laundry list of topics for the committee to consider–a reminder that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has a quite the variety of mandates and responsibilities–includes a section on food safety, which lists the following oversight priorities:
-Review implementation of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act;
-Review implementation of the recent FDA Egg Safety Rule;
-Review USDA’s administration of meat and poultry inspection laws and the FDA’s food inspection activities to ensure the development of scientifically sound systems for food safety assurance;
-Review USDA’s implementation of the catfish inspection program;
-Review USDA’s efforts to educate consumers regarding safe food handling practices and streamline the assessment and approval of food safety technologies;
-Review implementation of new protocols for meat, poultry, eggs, or seafood safety inspection; and
-Review USDA’s enforcement of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act and humane handling regulations.
The committee also lists a few points specifically on biotechnology:
-Review current regulations and research regarding animal and plant biotechnology;
-Review the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) findings regarding cloned animal products and regulation of genetically engineered animals;
-Assess USDA’s efforts to develop and promote benefits of biotechnology for increasing agricultural productivity and combating hunger globally; and
-Review USDA”s management and controls over biotechnology-derived material.
According to the draft oversight plan, the Ag committee has a lot of heavy lifting planned. On top of food safety and biotech, the 2012 Farm Bill, international free trade agreements, conservation, energy, civil rights, and rural development are just a few of the subjects the committee plans to consider.