I’m receiving lots of emails from folks on the Food “Safety” Bill that’s been making a splash on the ’net. In short, I have not spent a ton of time doing a deep dive on it because I thought it was a lot of hot air, though it clearly is yet another hushed attempt at federalizing one of the more intimate aspects our our lives — the food that we choose to grow, buy, or eat. The bill is over a year old, and it has show little sign of emerging intact. But now its cheerleaders are getting restless.
As I scratched the surface of S 510/HR 2749, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, the intentions are clear. The purpose of the bill is to expand the powers of the federal government — and specifically the HHS — and allow the feds to assume arbitrary powers that extend over any individuals who manufacture, process, pack, distribute, receive, hold, or import food.
Reading the summary of the Act is quite illuminating. Section 108 requires the Secretary of the HHS and the Secretary of Agriculture to plan and implement a National Agriculture and Food Defense Strategy. Section 109 “Directs the Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) to report annually on the activities of the Food and Agriculture Government Coordinating Council and the Food and Agriculture Sector Coordinating Council.” I’m sure that both of these stipulations will produce a new oversight committee that will look something like this.
Additionally, Section 110:
Requires the HHS Secretary to submit to Congress: (1) a comprehensive report that identifies programs and practices that are intended to promote the safety and supply chain security of food and to prevent outbreaks of foodborne illness and other food-related hazards that can be addressed through preventive activities; and (2) biennial reports on food safety programs and practices following the submission of the comprehensive report. Requires the HHS Secretary and the Secretary of Agriculture to submit to Congress, biennially, a joint food safety and food defense research plan.
Plus, schools and other “kiddie” institutions will have to “manage the risk of food allergy,” and that involves government planning for each child’s food allergy management; addressing parental obligation to provide the government with documentation of their child’s food allergies; and lastly, practicing anaphylaxis management, a major emerging issue of our time.
Last month, Eric Schlosser wrote an article in the New York Times calling for the passage of the bill that has been withering in the Senate. Schlosser, the author of Fast Food Nation and co-producer of the documentary Food, Inc. (a very good film for the most part), appeals to the notion that it’s ‘for the children’ otherwise “tens of thousands of American children will become needlessly and sometimes fatally ill.” Schlosser writes:
For months, however, the Internet has been rife with wild rumors and accusations: that the bill is really a subterfuge cleverly designed to eliminate small farms and strengthen the grip of industrial agriculture; that it would outlaw organic production; that it would hand over the nation’s food supply to Monsanto.
Those arguments may be sincere. But the bill very clearly instructs the Food and Drug Administration to focus its enforcement efforts on plants that pose the greatest risk of causing large-scale outbreaks. And the bill’s wording can still be clarified so that mom-and-pop producers aren’t threatened by heavy-handed government regulations.
What the legislation actually seeks is some restraint on unchecked corporate power.
He admits that the bill is far more than a “safety” bill, and he glosses over the potential for unchecked powers by noting that tweaking a few words here and there can seal a prospective power grab, as if he has no knowledge of history, let alone recent political events. This is the problem with many of these left-wing-socialist guys who are seemingly on the side of critical thinking and individual action when they make these pretty good anti-Big Agra food films. It’s always bothered me that none of these films ever draw any relationship between the very transparent and sinister big government-big food alliance, but instead they use the entire film to malign and misrepresent capitalism and free markets.
The intent of the bill is to federalize what little authority remains in the hands of individual states. But also, the politicos want to take what little power that remains in the hands of private producers and transfer it to the Big Food Manufacturer-Big Agra-Big Government complex so that the rent-seeking corporatist state can squash its community competition under the guise of “keeping you healthy and safe.” These politicos are kept in power thanks to the munificent coffers of the Big Food power players.
Marion Nestle writes in The Atlantic that it’s the “Food Safety Bill vs. the Tea Party,” and she waxes poetically about a horrendous, ranting hate piece from a lawyer named Bill Marler, who (amazingly) writes,
What is with all this anger over food? I mean, honestly, it seems like there are bigger fish to fry. What about the wars? Global warming? Energy policy?
Food — that which sustains life; makes or breaks health and the quality of life; and more importantly, provides a sense of self-control and ownership for those who choose to be resourceful enough to service their own nutritional needs. This thing — food — that sustains civilization is being called out as unimportant in the larger scheme of all things political. These types of totalitarian freaks, such as Nestle and Marlet, hate humans, they hate free men, and they especially hate anything that is not directed, controlled, mandated, and paid for via public policy. Marlet despises those who voluntarily purchase raw milk (he calls them “raw milkies”) and the people who oppose massive totalitarian grabs and the trampling of free choice on the part of oppressive government (he calls them “organic tea baggers”). He hates when human beings are free to go about their business and facilitate their own well-being without being guided and forced via public health policy. And Nestle? She is an academic and a whore for any and all public health policy that tramples on voluntary life while empowering the elevated experts of academia.
Yet I don’t see self-declared protectors like Nestle and Marler advocating for “safety” in the areas of conventional medicine — including pharmaceuticals — while statistics show that the leading cause of death in the U.S. is the establishment medical system.7:14 pm on August 9, 2010 Email Karen De Coster