Bill Wants All Farms—Big & Small—Under Control of Military
ON NOV. 30, THE SENATE overwhelmingly passed the Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510) by a vote of 73 to 25. The intent of the legislation is to give the federal government the power to shut down unsafe food providers, such as the massive Iowa chicken factory farm that was at the center of a nationwide recall of a half-billion eggs. However, critics argue that the bill imposes radical and onerous restrictions on all food providers, including small farms and even makers of nutritional supplements.
AFP first detailed this story in the Nov. 15 issue, calling it “the most sweeping update of food safety rules in the United States in more than 50 years.” Critics of the bill have blasted the measure as one of most dangerous pieces of legislation to ever be introduced in Congress, since it addresses the most important thing for human life next to clean water—that is, the quality of food we eat.
As we noted earlier, in the event of some unspecified “national emergency,” the bill will put all farms and all food under the direct control of the Homeland Security Department and the Department of Defense. The biggest concern is that this will lead to rationing and other controls of food. We know what happened in communist countries when food produced on farms was collected up by armed soldiers and redistributed around the country. The common folk in Eastern Europe, Russia and China all suffered through decades of government-induced famines, while most of the food went to feed the soldiers and leaders in their war machines.
The good news is that advocacy groups have been working with legislators to eliminate some of the worst aspects of the bill. No longer does the bill impose on food a global system of compliance in line with the World Trade Organization. Also, makers of nutritional supplements will not face 10 years in prison for failing to meet the bizarre and complicated requirements set by the Food and Drug Administration.
Finally, the Alliance for Natural Health USA (ANHUSA) worked to exclude small businesses and local and organic farms from some of the worst standards that would be enacted under this bill.
In a press release put out in late November, ANHUSA wrote: “We do not think the Senate food safety bill will make food safer; quite the contrary. At least we have succeeded in removing the very worst parts of it.”
The bill now goes to committee where senators and congressmen will try to reach some compromise bill. There still is a possibility that this new compromise bill will not pass. AFP will keep watching the measure as the lame-duck session continues.
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(Issue # 49 & 50, December 6 & 13, 2010)