WASHINGTON – A controversial bill that would expand the power of the Food and Drug Administration to regulate the American food supply is scheduled for a procedural vote in the lame-duck Senate tomorrow.

Natural-food growers fear the bill will threaten “the public’s right to grow, trade and transport any foods,” according to naturalnews.com. “It would grant [Big Brother] the power to arrest and imprison people selling cucumbers at farmer’s markets.”

S. 510, the “FDA Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010,” is currently being “held” by U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, R.-Okla. A “hold,” or threat to filibuster, prevents consideration of a bill by the full Senate. If 60 senators vote for cloture, they would break the hold and allow the Senate to begin debate on the merits of the bill itself.

Coburn opposes the bill because it increases federal spending and regulation with no guarantee of improving the quality of food.

“S. 510 isn’t paid for, and the national debt is the greatest threat to our national security,” explained John Hart, Coburn’s communications director. “It adds new regulations, but it won’t necessarily improve food safety.”

Hart contended that some of the fears about the bill are overblown, but he agreed that the bill’s “onerous” new regulations on food production could shut down small farmers.

“It’s a big concern,” said Hart. “Such bills often benefit big producers, who happen to be big campaign contributors, and harm smaller producers. It’s another case of Congress trusting itself more than the market to punish bad actors.”

The bill is the Senate companion to House bill H.R. 2749, the “Food Safety Enhancement Act,” introduced in 2009 by Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich. The House has already passed its version of the bill.

According to Dingell, the bill “is a critical step toward equipping the FDA with the authorities and funding it needs to regulate what is now a global marketplace for food, drugs, devices and cosmetics.”

“This is not about food safety; it’s about federal control over the food supply,” in the view of Pete Kennedy, president of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund. “The federal government will be imposing on the states its pro-pasteurization, pro-irradiation, pro-GMO version of safe food; in its view, the only good bacteria is dead bacteria,” Kennedy told NewsWithViews

“Beware of legislation that takes a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to ensuring food safety,” argues FTCLDF on its website. “The industrial food system in which the producer is far removed from the final consumer should be regulated, especially international imports.

“The complexity of the interstate distribution chain justifies the need for governmental monitoring,” FTCLDF continues. “Food from local, sustainable farms supplied direct to consumers and to the local food movement, such as at farmers’ markets, does not require the same scrutiny by an intermediary agency. In fact, small sustainable family farms and the ‘local food movement” are part of the solution to food safety threats and traceability in the event of a foodborne illness outbreak.”

“Congress is addicted to spending, so [S. 510] will probably pass,” Hart predicted.

If it does, the two versions of the bill will have to be reconciled, and the final version passed by both House and Senate to become law.


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