Sunday, April 5, 2009
Politics, Food and Confusion
Have you gotten one, or maybe several e-mails asking you to sign a petition to stop HR 875, the "Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009"? If you read foodie or political blogs, you've probably read about the controversy surrounding this bill. When I first heard about the bill, it sounded good to me. It would create a Food Safety Administration, which would take on the food safety issues now under the jurisdiction of the Food & Drug Administration, allowing the FDA to concentrate solely on drug safety, a big enough job by its self. This new agency would have authority to order recalls of tainted food, which, surprisingly, the FDA does not have. It can only suggest recalls. The bill includes new safety regulations for food production facilities, requires more safety inspections and requires such facilities to register with the agency and comply with inspections (there is no charge for registering.) Check out http://foodandwaterwatch.org/food/foodsafety/background-on-h-r-875/?searchterm=875
for a recap of what HR 875 actually does and does not do.
Then along comes an e-mail from http://LeaveMyFoodAlone.org telling me that this bill will essentially regulate small farmers right out of business! Telling me to imagine life without farmers' markets & roadside farm stands! Stating "Americans would be forced to eat only corporately manufactured, chemically treated, hermetically sealed irradiated fruits and vegetables." Would I sign a petition against it? Where's my pen? Then, being the good lawyer's daughter that I am, I remembered that I am never to sign anything without researching it fully.
I started with Marion Nestle's blog, www.foodpolitics.com. She is the author of several books on the food industry, including Food Politics and What to Eat. I think she's brilliant and recommend that everyone read her work. She gives a few links, and I also did some google-ing to get some more information. My research, by no means exhaustive, found nothing that backs up the claims stated on the anti-HR 875 petition. So, I'm baffled by why this petition exists, since its claims appear to be unfounded. What is the real reason that some people don't want this bill to pass? Certainly they are not for contaminated food? Pro-Salmonella? I'm not being sarcastic, (well, maybe a little); I really would like someone to give me the real reasons why some people are so against this bill that they'll say anything to stop it. Maybe if I knew these reasons, I'd agree with them.