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News for December 1, 2010

Despite massive protests, US Senate passes S 510 Food Safety Bill

The new Food Tyranny Act -- called the "Food Safety Modernization Act" in the U.S. Senate -- has been passed by the senate today. It would give the FDA vast new powers to criminalize and imprison farmers and food producers while doing absolutely nothing to address to real root of the food contamination problem: Factory animal farm operations (which are regulated under the USDA, not the FDA).

The bill passed 73 to 25, with Sen Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) emerging as the greatest "voice of reason" in the debate. His last-ditch amendment to reduce the scale of the bill was defeated this morning.

READ MORE (Natural News) ]

Senate Passes Food Safety Modernization Act

On Tuesday, November 30, a year after it was reported out of Committee, the Food Safety Modernization Act (S.510) passed the Senate, 73-25.

The bill will now be sent to the House for their consideration. The House passed its own food safety bill (HR.2749) last year, but given the short time remaining in this Congress, it would be extremely difficult to go through a conference between the House and Senate and then bring a conference bill back to both bodies for another vote. The only way to get the bill finished and signed into law is for the House to adopt the Senate bill and send it to the President.

READ MORE (National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition) ]

Food Safety Reform Bill Passes in the Senate. Now What?

After more than a year-and-a-half of heated debate, Congressional foot-dragging, and all-out campaigning, history was made today as the Senate voted in favor of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510), the food safety reform bill. While some foodies whipped out the party hats at the passage, others expressed fears that this kind of legislation gives the government too much power and may hurt the local food movement.

As I've written before on, S. 510 aims to seal up some of the gaping holes in America's food safety system. In other words, the legislation hopes to prevent massive food contamination outbreaks like this summer's salmonella scare. The legislation would accomplish this feat by overhauling the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), giving the agency the power to issue mandatory food recalls if a contamination issue arises (under current laws, the FDA can only ask companies to issue voluntary recalls — a "Pretty-please-don't-make-us-sick" kind of tactic). S. 510 also requires that every food processing facility implement a safety plan and mandates more frequent inspections of food production and processing sites. Right now, sites like Wright County Egg — which churn out billions of eggs a year — may go five or even 10 years without a safety inspection.


If You're in the Food Business, Better Begin Preparing Now to Avoid the FDA SWAT Teams

The U.S. Senate passed S510 by a large majority, including the provisions of the Tester-Hagan amendment exempting small food producers. It's looking ever more likely that the U.S. House will approve the Senate's version and, presto, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will have powers approximating those of the airport screeners (part of Homeland Security), which is absolute power, as anyone who travels well knows (and in point of fact, the legislation requires FDA to work together with the Department of Homeland Security in implementation).

It couldn't have been an hour after the Senate acted that I received an email promo from one of the largest accounting firms in the country, wondering if I wanted to interview one of its experts advising on the impact of the legislation on businesses. Yes, there will be many services for large accounting and consulting services to sell--drawing up HACCP plans (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points), preparing companies for recalls, having your records in a form that will please U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspectors who can come calling at any time. Kaching, kaching, kaching./p>

READ MORE (Complete Patient) ]

Does Senate Bill 510 Put Raw Milk in Real Danger?

Today the U.S. Senate passed Senate Bill 510, the Food Safety Modernization Act. After the recent scandal with eggs, and all of the other food safety issues of recent years (meat, peanut butter, spinach), many people believe this is a positive step - and obviously Senate lawmakers, who voted 75 to 23 to pass SB 510, also think the bill is good. A segment of farm advocates have warned that SB 510 is a severe threat to small farms - and by extension, most raw milk producers - because of the sweeping powers it gives to the Federal Drug Administation (FDA) and the possibility for onerous paperwork and other regulations for farmers. But there's some good news.

SB 510 will give the FDA broader jurisdiction, specifically in the wording of the bill that lets the FDA act on "reason to believe." SB 510 would also allow the FDA to mandate that a company recall a food product it suspects is infected. Thus if the FDA has reason to believe - a very subjective measure - raw milk is harmful, it could attempt to shut down that producer - unless the farmer had gone through the necessary paperwork to get an exemption.

READ MORE (TreeHugger) ]

House May Block Food Safety Bill Over Senate Error

A food safety bill that has burned up precious days of the Senate’s lame-duck session appears headed back to the chamber because Democrats violated a constitutional provision requiring that tax provisions originate in the House.

By pre-empting the House’s tax-writing authority, Senate Democrats appear to have touched off a power struggle with members of their own party in the House. The Senate passed the bill Tuesday, sending it to the House, but House Democrats are expected to use a procedure known as “blue slipping” to block the bill, according to House and Senate GOP aides.

READ MORE (Roll Call) ]

Senate passes food safety bill

In what would be the biggest overhaul of the nation's food safety laws in seven decades, the Senate on Tuesday approved a raft of regulations that would require food manufacturers and farmers to use scientific techniques to prevent contaminated food - a shift aimed at stopping the waves of foodborne illnesses that have shaken consumer confidence in the safety of the food supply.

The vote of 73 to 25 cleared the way for the legislation to be signed into law in the coming weeks, delivering a revamped safety system that would confer vast new authority on the Food and Drug Administration, accelerate the government's response to outbreaks and set the first safety standards for imported food. The changes come after tainted foods as varied as spinach and peanuts recently sickened thousands nationwide and caused at least a dozen deaths.

READ MORE (Washington Post) ]

Senate Passes Sweeping Law on Food Safety

The Senate passed a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s food safety system on Tuesday, after tainted eggs, peanut butter and spinach sickened thousands of people in the last few years and led major food makers to join consumer advocates in demanding stronger government oversight.

The legislation, which passed by a vote of 73 to 25, would greatly strengthen the Food and Drug Administration, an agency that in recent decades focused more on policing medical products than ensuring the safety of food. The bill is intended to keep unsafe foods from reaching markets and restaurants, where they can make people sick — a change from the current practice, which mainly involves cracking down after outbreaks occur.

READ MORE (New York Times) ]

Why we can't just inspect our way to safer food

The only way to ensure food safety is to make sure that everyone in the food industry who touches plant, animal, or food--from the field to the dinner table--does so in a safe manner. Unfortunately, the latest version of the Food Safety and Modernization Act, which the Senate passed this Tuesday, does not address this issue at all. The designers of the act think it does, but it doesn't.

The government seems to think it can require, inspect and educate safe behaviors into the food chain. However, quality experts learned long ago that you cannot inspect quality into a product or service. I have been in too many government inspections in the Army and in other parts of the government where vehicles looked good but wouldn't run; where equipment didn't operate properly, but the operators could avoid the detection; where paperwork irregularities were explained away. Why were such things done? Simple: To avoid punishment.

READ MORE (Washington Post) ]

Court orders destruction of GMO crop

Today Federal District Judge Jeffrey S. White issued a preliminary injunction ordering the immediate destruction of hundreds of acres of genetically engineered (GE) sugar beet seedlings planted in September after finding the seedlings had been planted in violation of federal law. The ruling comes in a lawsuit filed by Earthjustice and Center for Food Safety on behalf of a coalition of farmers, consumers, and conservation groups. The lawsuit was filed on September 9, shortly after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) revealed it had allowed the seedlings to be planted.

The court outlined the many ways in which GE sugar beets could harm the environment and consumers, noting that containment efforts were insufficient and past contamination incidents were “too numerous” to allow the illegal crop to remain in the ground. In his court order, Judge White noted, “farmers and consumers would likely suffer harm from cross-contamination” between GE sugar beets and non-GE crops. He continued, “the legality of Defendants’ conduct does not even appear to be a close question,” noting that the government and Monsanto tried to circumvent his prior ruling, which made GE sugar beets illegal.

READ MORE (The Bovine) ]




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