Here is an update on the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act that I have posted an Action Alert for these past 2 posts.
This is getting a bit confusing as S.510 did pass the Senate, then went to the House which seem to act like they were going to stall it, THEN today we find out they (House Democrats) put it into another bill altogether! This is NOT good...or honest!!! While it was somewhere (I think the Senate) there was an added amendment to it called the Tester-Hagan amendment which did help small farmers in some ways, but even with this, the bill has serious problems....and ramifications to us all.
I have put 2 different Alert emails that have come through about this bill below to help you wade through this if you have not kept up to date about this.
Your attention is needed on this issue- NOW- if you want to keep your food freedoms.
From..........Alliance for Natural Health USA
On December 8, the House of Representatives passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) H.R.3082. A CR is supposed to provide temporary, stopgap funding for the government while budget bills are worked out. But this CR included the language of the Senate food safety bill—language that will still affect small food producers (organic farms, small farms, mom-and-pop roadside stands, etc.) most of all. It will completely transform the food and farming industries—for the worse.
Putting the text of another bill into a CR is a prime example of the way Congress operates. It is ethically wrong; indeed it is an example of corruption. We saw this kind of slight of hand in the passage of the health reform legislation, and the American public should be fed up with it.
Now this House CR goes back to the Senate, which is expected to pick it up by the middle of next week. The rumor is that instead of dealing with the CR directly, Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI) will introduce the Senate’s own omnibus bill (even larger than the CR) that will also contain the food safety language along and who knows what else.
This is a bad bill, on its own or attached to another piece of legislation. We are grateful that the changes we lobbied for have stayed in the bill, including the exemption for supplements from Codex language and the Tester amendment that protects small farms from some of the bill’s provisions. But the bill still gives the FDA much too much control over farming in general and small producers in particular.
Three specific concerns remain, all major:
1. The bill mandates that every registered facility must be inspected by the FDA: high-risk facilities will be inspected initially within the first five years and then every three years thereafter; low-risk facilities, initially within seven years, and then every five. The FDA will need to hire an additional 5,000 employees to do all the inspections. Big companies love this, because the FDA will be so bogged down inspecting all the smaller operations that they won’t have time to focus on the big guys—where the actual food safety problems arise. Food safety legislation should be targeted at the large industrial farms, but, no surprise, this bill does just the opposite.
2. Language in the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act currently reads:
An officer or qualified employee of the Food and Drug Administration may order the detention, in accordance with this subsection, of any article of food that is found during an inspection, examination, or investigation under this chapter conducted by such officer or qualified employee, if the officer or qualified employee has credible evidence or information indicating that such article presents a threat of serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals.
Under this bill, the boldfaced text above would be changed to:
if the officer or qualified employee has reason to believe that such article is adulterated or misbranded.
And remember, as interpreted by the FDA, a food or supplement may be deemed “adulterated” if there have been any record-keeping violations. “Misbranded” can mean that the producer makes a completely true statement about the product but without FDA permission.
So when the FDA is inspecting a facility, if they merely believe an item is misbranded or adulterated—no concrete evidence is required—they can confiscate all of that product. If there is a suspected record-keeping error for a supplement, the entire stock can be taken by the FDA.
3. A company has to be registered to operate. Under this bill, if the FDA finds there to be a reasonable probability that a product may cause serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals, the FDA may suspend that facility’s registration, effectively shutting it down. This seems reasonable, but there is only one informal opportunity for companies to reinstate registration, with no opportunity whatsoever to appeal—they are at the mercy of an FDA inspector’s whim. This should not be allowed in America.
Why does all of this matter? Keep in mind the FDA has consistently done Big Pharma’s bidding and has attacked supplement companies and small food producers (such as the cherry and walnut growers). The bill gives the FDA unbridled authority to ratchet things up even further. The FDA needs to focus on large producers, not get its tentacles onto small producers.
Please contact your senators TODAY and ask them to oppose the food safety bill language that is currently in the CR (though it might be found in the omnibus bill next week). This may be our last chance to defeat this bill—please take action immediately!
TO SEND YOUR MESSAGE TO YOUR SENATORS
Click THIS LINK to go to the Action Alert page. Once there, fill out the form with your name and address, etc., and customize your letter. We have a suggested message for you, but please feel free to add your own comments to the letter.
From....... Farm-to Consumer Legal Defense Fund
SENATORS, Vote "NO" on Cloture for H.R. 3082 & Oppose the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act
By a 212-206 vote on December 8, the House passed the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (formerly S.510) as an amendment to H.R. 3082 (the "Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011" to fund the government through September 2011). A food safety act should not be part of a spending bill.
House Democrats attached what was S.510 (as passed by the Senate on November 30) to H.R. 3082 because they were worried about Republican opposition to it as a stand alone bill. The next step for H.R. 3082 is to go to the Senate for a vote.
As this is the Senate, the first vote on H.R. 3082 will be on a cloture motion to limit debate before there is a vote on the bill itself.
People need to contact their Senators now to tell them to Vote "NO" on Cloture for H.R. 3082 and Oppose the "FDA Food Safety Modernization Act" (Division D of H.R. 3082).
STEP 1 - Send a live fax message to your Senators through the online petition at www.ftcldf.org/stopS510
even if you've already used the petition this week.
STEP 2 - Call your Senators and be sure to give your zip code
Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121; ask to be connected to your Senator's office.
Go to www.Congress.org; enter your zip code on the right side under "Get Involved" and click "Go". Click on your Senators' names then click the "Contact" tab to get office phone number(s).
If you get voicemail, leave a brief message with your zip code. If the line is busy, keep calling until you get through.
The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act is fundamentally flawed and is not in the best interest of small farmers, especially those who produce raw milk.
1. FDA does not respect individuals' rights to obtain healthy, quality foods of their choice. The agency has stated as a matter of public record, that:
"There is no absolute right to consume or feed children any particular food."
"Plaintiffs' assertion of a 'fundamental right to their own bodily and physical health, which includes what foods they do and do not choose to consume for themselves and their families' is similarly unavailing because plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to obtain any food they wish."
FDA has even participated in armed raids on small-scale co-ops and membership organizations. This agency should not be given any additional power.
2. FDA has adequate powers under existing law to ensure food safety and effectively deal with foodborne illness outbreaks. FDA has power to inspect, power to detain product and can readily obtain court orders to seize adulterated or misbranded food products or enjoin them from being sold. The problem isn't that FDA needs more power; it's that FDA does not effectively use the power it currently has. The agency has power to inspect imported food yet inspects only 1% of food coming into this country from outside our borders.
3. The Act does nothing to address many significant food safety problems in this country, such as those resulting from confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and various contaminants (e.g., BPA, pesticides, herbicides, etc.).
4. FDA has used its existing power to benefit the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries at the expense of public health (e.g., allowing the overuse of antibiotics in confined animal feeding operations and refusing to require labeling for genetically-modified foods). This Act does not address the fundamental problems at this agency in order to truly protect public health.
5. The Act will expand FDA's involvement in regulating food in intra-state commerce, further interfering with local communities. State and local governments are more than capable of handling any problems related to food in intrastate commerce. All the major outbreaks of foodborne illness involve either imported food or food in inter-state commerce.
6. The Act will hurt our ability as a nation to be self-sufficient in food production because it has more lenient inspection requirements for foreign than domestic producers creating an unfair advantage for food imports. Giving an advantage to foreign producers will only increase the amount of food imported into this country that does not meet our domestic standards. The Act does not address food security--the ability of a country to produce enough food to meet its own needs.