We, in the US, need a better system to keep our food safe. There are dangers posed to our food supply by negligence during growing/raising and processing, the import of poisoned ingredients, and by… bills, like the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009, sponsored by Rosa DeLauro.
There’s been a lot of internet mention of Monsanto backing this bill. Rosa Delauro’s husband’s firm, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, lists Monsanto as a client. While this raises my suspicion that it could ultimately help Monsanto squash organic farming, I’ve seen absolutely nothing that shows Monsanto backing the bill. The spread of half-truths and untruths won’t accomplish anything. The bill itself is one big problem though.
The terms of H.R.875 are too broad. It could be leveled at homesteads, which aren’t explicitly excluded from this act. In section 3, paragraph 8 seems to open the door wide to any interpretation of which “food establishments” would be affected:
CATEGORY 4 FOOD ESTABLISHMENT.—The term ‘‘category 4 food establishment’’ means a food establishment that processes all other categories of food products not described in paragraphs (5) through (7).
Proposed regulations aren’t specific enough either. From section 203:
Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Administrator shall promulgate regulations that require all food establishments, within time frames determined by the Administrator— (1) to adopt preventive process controls that
reflect the standards and procedures recognized by relevant authoritative bodies;
The standards and procedures could be anything. Maybe they could turn into practices that taint organic food. I wouldn’t expect this act to protect our food supply against GMO’s, pesticides, chemical fertilizers or antibiotics. Also, which authoritative bodies will be relevant?
The proposed government surveillance of “food establishments” would be too invasive and put far too much burden on the homesteader or even small, organic farms.
This could go the way of NAIS, a USDA program in which livestock animals are tagged with microchips or RFID’s, and tracked through a database. If the USDA has it’s way, no backyard chicken coop in the country will be safe from this unwarranted system. The burden, financial and otherwise, of this potentially unwanted surveillance falls squarely on the backs of the livestock owners. But factory farms, take heart! You get a big financial break, because you can register your closely contained group of animals under one number.
If H.R.875 finds it’s way beyond committee, hopefully it will look like an entirely new bill.
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