News for May 6, 2010
Update on FDA Lawsuit
On April 26, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) submitted its response to a lawsuit filed earlier this year by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF). The FTCLDF lawsuit claims that the federal regulations (21 CFR 1240.61 and 21 CFR 131.110) banning raw milk for human consumption in interstate commerce are unconstitutional and outside of FDA's statutory authority as applied to FTCLDF's members and the named individual plaintiffs in the suit. In its answer to the complaint, FDA made its position on the issue of 'freedom of food choice' a part of the public record. FTCLDF has until June 14 to file a reply to FDA's response.
[ Click here for details on the lawsuit ]
FDA's Views on Freedom of Choice
Here are some of FDA's views expressed in its response on 'freedom of food choice' in general and on the right to obtain and consume raw milk in particular:
"Plaintiffs' assertion of a new 'fundamental right' to produce, obtain, and consume unpasteurized milk lacks any support in law." [p. 4]
"It is within HHS's authority . . . to institute an intrastate ban [on unpasteurized milk] as well." [p. 6]
"Plaintiffs' assertion of a new 'fundamental right' under substantive due process to produce, obtain, and consume unpasteurized milk lacks any support in law." [p.17]
"There is no absolute right to consume or feed children any particular food." [p. 25]
"There is no 'deeply rooted' historical tradition of unfettered access to foods of all kinds." [p. 26]
[ Click here to read FDA's brief ]
The Fight for Food Freedom
Growing numbers of people in this country are obtaining the foods of their choice through private contractual arrangements such as buyers' club agreements and herdshare contracts. FDA's position is that the agency can interfere with these agreements because, in FDA's view, there is no fundamental right to enter into a private contract to obtain the foods of choice from the source of choice. As for the agency's contention that there is no fundamental right to obtain any food, including raw milk, here is what the 'substantive due process' clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides: no person shall "be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." Obtaining the foods of your choice is so basic to life, liberty and property that it is inconceivable that the 'right of food choice' would not be protected under the Constitution but FDA is saying "No".
The fight for food freedom is at a crucial point. The U.S. Senate is threatening to pass a food safety bill, S 510 - "FDA Food Safety Modernization Act", which would greatly increase FDA's power to regulate food. The House of Representatives has already passed a food safety bill, HR 2749. The final version of the food safety bill would give FDA the power to quarantine the movement of food within a state without judicial oversight and the power to levy draconian fines against food producers for reasons unrelated to food safety. Moreover, the bill would substantially increase FDA's power to regulate intrastate commerce to the extent that even a roadside vegetable stand would come under federal jurisdiction.
Here are links to two articles on food safety legislation:
Food Safety: The Worst of Both Bills (HR 2749 & S 510) - by Pete Kennedy
Food "Safety" Reform and the Covert Continuation of the Enclosure Movement - by Nicole Johnson
[ READ MORE ]
The immediate step for people to take is to contact their Senators and ask them to oppose S 510. Inform them FDA has publicly stated that you have no fundamental right to obtain the food of your choice and no fundamental right to your own bodily and physical health.
Contact information for your U.S. Senators can be found at http://www.opencongress.org/people/senators
As mentioned in an FTCLDF action alert last week, readers should also contact FDA to ask that the agency stop its harassment of farmers that it suspects are selling or distributing raw milk across state lines. Click here to go to the alert and a sample letter to write FDA posted at https://ftcldf.org/aa/aa-26april2010.htm
As David Gumpert has stated, raw milk is a proxy issue to the larger issue of food rights. The FDA is a threat to both.
[ READ MORE ]
Across the Fence: Things I’ve learned Over 66 Years
I had another birthday this week. I’m proud to admit I’ve now survived 66 of them. I used to think that was really old. Most days I don’t feel that old. I said most days. Some days, I feel ancient, both mentally and physically. Life is speeding along and some days it’s hard to hang on and keep up with all the changes a 66-year old has seen; especially all the high-tech changes.
First, the good news. I can now take Social Security, keep on working, and the government can’t penalize me and ask me to pay the Social Security payment back because I make more money than they allow. Of course we’re still saddled with the hundreds of different taxes the government burdens us with. Is it just me, or does it seem unfair that our Social Security is taxed as income, when we already paid that in as a tax. Now they tax it again. That seems like double taxation to me.
[ READ MORE ]
Wis. Legalization Of Raw Milk Seen As Benchmark
MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Proponents of unpasteurized milk hope a victory in "America's Dairyland" will encourage other states to legalize sales and make it more available nationwide.
Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle has indicated he will sign a bill the Legislature passed late last month allowing farms to sell raw milk directly to consumers through 2011. Although the bill is limited in scope, advocates who've worked for years promoting raw milk say legalization in Wisconsin could lead to broader acceptance nationwide.
"It's the best state this could have happened in for us," said Sally Fallon Morell, president of the Washington-based Weston A. Price Foundation, a nonprofit group that advocates drinking raw milk.
[ READ MORE ]