Food Freedom is under Assault, H.R. 759 Worse than H.R. 875
Friday, April 24, 2009
Ethan Huff, citizen journalist
Key concepts: Food, Food safety and Freedom
(NaturalNews) Salmonella outbreaks, food contamination, and other regulatory deficiencies over the nation's food supply during the past several years have led to a barrage of proposed legislation aimed at improving food safety. H.R. 875, H.R. 759, and H.R. 1332, are three major bills that have been proposed in recent months to address food safety issues, all of which have been tailored to benefit large, industrial food processors at the expense of small, family farms. Watchdog groups, including the Cornucopia Institute, are warning that H.R. 759, expected to be voted upon before Memorial Day, is the bill most likely to make it out of committee to Congress for a vote. Various portions of H.R. 875 and H.R. 1332 are expected to be implemented within the final version of H.R. 759.
Authored and introduced by Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) on January 28, 2009, H.R. 759, The FDA Globalization Act, would do the very thing its name implies; it would grant full authority to the FDA to set minimum, "science-based" standards for what it deems the safe production and harvesting of produce in the "global market".
According to the Cornucopia Institute, all "food processing facilities", or farms, would be required to register with the FDA and pay annual registration fees for program compliance, as well as other requirements including hazard evaluation, preventive hazard control, and copious record-keeping stipulations, regardless of the farm's size, organic certification, or already-existing safety guidelines.
Similar to H.R. 875, H.R 759 makes no differentiation between "food processing facilities", lumping everything from a small, certified-organic family produce farm to a large, conventional factory farm in its "one-size-fits-all" classification system. In other words, the same regulations placed on large agribusiness would be placed on farmers providing fresh vegetables at the local farmers market. There is also no differentiation in the bill between organic farms, which are already highly regulated and have extremely high standards, and their pesticide-ridden conventional counterparts.
Rather than logically evaluating the root causes of food contamination, which are almost always caused by filthy food processors not maintaining proper standards, these "food safety" bills seem to economically disparage family farms in favor of factory farms and transfer ever-more control over food to the FDA, an odious federal bureaucracy that is unable to enforce the food safety guidelines that are already established.
With the exception of H.R. 875, the food safety bills that have been proposed fail to identify and examine the real causes of food contamination and, instead, tack excessive burdens onto farmers, thus putting many small farms out of business. Even H.R. 875, while mentioning the importance of "identifying and evaluating the sources of potentially hazardous contamination," represents an enormous shift in power from the individual to the state, representing ominous implications for food freedom.
Since foods such as spinach, peppers, almonds, peanuts, and others for which there have been recent contamination outbreaks are not inherently dangerous, it is vital for any food safety legislation to seek to identify the root causes of contamination and deal with them accordingly. Whether it is the filthy animal feedlot up the road that has contaminated with salmonella the water used by the nearby spinach farm, or the improper cleaning of peanut-processing equipment by the industrial peanut processor, the contamination source is virtually never the farm itself, but some other link in the food processing chain. Yet H.R. 759 targets farms with more regulation, particularly disadvantaging small farms. Thus it is important to make Congress aware of the facts and to urge a redirection of food safety efforts towards the real culprits rather than the farmers.
Since H.R. 759 has been referred to, and remains in, the House Energy and Commerce committee, it is important to act now and en masse to oppose it and any food safety legislation that would harm organic and family farms, increase FDA power over the nation's food supply, and bolster Big Agribusiness by squelching competition with one-size-fits-all regulations aimed at putting out of business small farms.
Additionally, any true food safety legislation should require independent analysis into the root causes of food contamination rather than penalize the "food processors" (farms) with overbearing regulatory burdens while allowing the real perpetrators to continue their unacceptable practices.
Henry Waxman (D-CA), Chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, can be contacted at (202) 225-2927. Congress can also be contacted by calling the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.
The Cornucopia Institute also provides a sample letter that can be downloaded, modified, and sent to one's elected officials.
Now is the time to speak out against illegitimate "food safety" bills in order to protect access to clean, healthy, local food, not to mention the freedom to grow it, sell it, and buy it.