Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Senate Passes SB 510 Tuesday, but Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call reports:

"House May Block Food Safety Bill [510] Over Senate Error"

More on this, with links, from the site Natural News. 

We're getting conflicting messages about this bill - the Farm to Consumers Defense Fund (FTCLDF) says they are still against it even with the addition of the Tester amendment and Managers package, but the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, Food Democracy Now and the Cornucopia Institute all say they all want 510 to pass now (see posts below for more on that). 

We tend to agree with the FTCLDF and don't trust this bill at all.
Other great farm and consumer organizations, like Food Democracy Now are supporting passage of 510 as it is now, but we think it is a mistake to give the FDA this kind of latitude. 

Analysis of 510 here.

How Your Senator Voted, here.  

With the Tester amendment and Manager's package added, we do think it will not be as devastating to local producers as originally written, but will take a great deal of vigilance on the part of the average consumer to make sure the FDA regulates the factory farms and producers where food safety issues have overwhelmingly originated, and does not inappropriately regulate or place an undue burden on small sustainable farms, including dairy farms and others, where these problems have traditionally not been an issue.

Traditionally the USDA has been the agency tasked with food safety and agricultural oversight. . Each state has also always had the right to oversee many of their own food safety and agricultural concerns. Much of this right will  be lost with the powers ceded by states to the FDA in this bill.

The FDA is not adequately equipped at this time to oversee a great many food safety concerns. A current example is the FDA's inability - by its own admission - to produce adequate independent research on the safety of genetically modified salmon now up for government approval. The FDA is having to rely completely on safety research produced by the company hoping to market this salmon - produced when genes of two kinds of salmon and an eel are spliced together in a laboratory, which they hope to be the first GMO animal approved for commercial production - to determine whether is safe or not. Tellingly, the salmon was submitted to the FDA by the Aqua Bounty Corporation under the classification of a drug, which avoids the more stringent regulations governing food products, had the lab created fish been submitted where food products up to this time have traditionally been submitted - the USDA. (More on this salmon in the 2 previous posts, below).

Unfortunately, much information now coming out about the Food Safety Modernization Act, SB 510, confuses people who want to protect small independent family farms and access to locally grown food, with processes, such as cloture, the average working person is not familiar with, with fast-moving changes to the Tester amendment, and with very little of the Senate process with this bill reported by any major media, until after it happens - if at all. 

We also realize many farm and consumer advocate organizations are reluctant to oppose a bill containing the phrase "food safety" in its name. It makes for a terrible media sound-bite, even if the actual bill will not be effective at protecting food safety. This could be what is is hoped for by the corporate agricultural, chemical, and factory processing proponents of this bill.  

To continue to follow SB 510  or to see its supporters, and those opposing the bill (listed partway down the page at go here.