"The vested interests -- if we explain the situation by their influence -- can only get the public to act as they wish by manipulating public opinion, by playing upon the public's indifference, confusions, prejudices, pugnacities or fears. And the only way in which the power of the interests can be undermined and their maneuvers defeated is by bringing home to the public its indifference, the absurdity of its prejudices, or the hollowness of its fears; by showing that it is indifferent to dangers where real danger exists; frightened by dangers which are nonexistent."
-- Sir Norman Angell (1872 -- 1967)
Vested interest groups have orchestrated a legislative lullaby to hush the public's growing unease with the safety of its food supply. Their enablers in the mainstream corporate controlled media amplify a chorus of government officials and non-governmental organizations admonishing that the public must be confident that the food it buys is safe. But having confidence our food is safe is not the same as having food that is safe and wholesome to eat.
The American public has a great and unmet need to understand the true impacts (that is, the predictable consequences) of the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009, before the Senates passes its version of this dangerous bill. The US Congress has a long, tragic history of passing legislation that promotes the industrialization of our food supply, effectively implementing the wishes -- both stated and unstated -- of agribusiness, and it's about to do it again.
Using the pretext of food safety, those behind the Food Safety Enhancement Act seek to institute changes the American public would not condone if it understood what is at stake. The country is being duped into believing that the pseudo-scientific measures prescribed by the bill will prevent new outbreaks of food-borne illnesses when in reality FSEA will usher in a number of undesirable outcomes, none of which do a thing to improve food safety. On the contrary, these measures will permit large processors to become an essentially unregulated segment of the industry by privatizing the inspection process, and -- at the same time -- the new regulations will constitute a cost-prohibitive barrier for small players to remain in business, making them easy targets for indiscriminant enforcement and greater market consolidation.
These proposed measures seek to apply "HACCP" (pronounced "hassip') -- a food protection approach originally designed to assure the safety of processed foods -- to raw foods, a kind of mistake only a lawyer or lobbyist would see a reason to make. The food safety wrecking crew responsible for applying HACCP erroneously to "raw-in/raw-out" meat and poultry operations in the 90s is back and ready to apply it erroneously to the produce market, the next FDA target in its quest for expanded oversight authority and police powers.
FSEA's success would have severe consequences for the nationwide food localization movement. Though millions want to see the development of local food systems that provide an environmentally sound and health-sustaining alterative to the industrially manufactured products ruining our collective health, their dreams will be stamped out before they're allowed to grow their infrastructure and reach due to the FDA's expensive, unnecessary regulations.
If the Senate passes its version of HR 2749, we will also see our food laws brought significantly closer to harmonization with Codex Alimentarius, the cartel-acceptable food codes that the World Trade Organization employs to dictate to all member nations the terms of the global food trade for the benefit of transnational corporations.
An "Adaptive" Approach to Agriculture
Before we examine how FSEA will impact our food supply, it would be helpful to understand more about some highly relevant though little known history of American agriculture and its industrialization. Though industrialization is usually portrayed as something that happened as a natural result of technology bringing about ever-increasing efficiency, this notion doesn't fit the facts.
With World War II, America saw its agricultural system intentionally subjected to political policies that radically transformed it. What was once a decentralized system that provided a means to self sufficiency and independence for tens of millions of farmers was purposefully centralized into a capital-intensive fossil-fuel dependent system that restructured local economies, permitting their wealth to be extracted by what are now transnational cartels dedicated to the so-called free market and globalized trade at all costs.
This transformation was the result of organized plans developed by a group of highly powerful -- though unelected -- financial and industrial executives who wanted to drastically change agricultural practices in the US to better serve their collective corporate financial agenda. This group, called the Committee for Economic Development, was officially established in 1942 as a sister organization to the Council on Foreign Relations. CED has influenced US domestic policies in much the same way that the CFR has influenced the nation's foreign policies.
Composed of chief executive officers and chairmen from the federal reserve, the banking industry, private equity firms, insurance companies, railroads, information technology firms, publishing companies, pharmaceutical companies, the oil and automotive industries, meat packing companies, retailers and assisted by university economists -- representatives from every sector of the economy with the key exception of farmers themselves -- CED determined that the problem with American agriculture was that there were too many farmers. But the CED had a "solution": millions of farmers would just have to be eliminated.
In a number of reports written over a few decades, CED recommended that farming "resources" -- that is, farmers -- be reduced. In its 1945 report "Agriculture in an Expanding Economy," CED complained that "the excess of human resources engaged in agriculture is probably the most important single factor in the "farm problem'" and describes how agricultural production can be better organized to fit to business needs. A report published in 1962 entitled "An Adaptive Program for Agriculture" is even more blunt in its objectives, leading Time Magazine to remark that CED had a plan for fixing the identified problem: "The essential fact to be faced, argues CED, is that with present high levels farm productivity, more labor is involved in agriculture production that the market demands -- in short, there are too may farmers. To solve that problem, CED offers a program with three main prongs."
Some of the report's authors would go on to work in government to implement CED's policy recommendations. Over the next five years, the political and economic establishment ensured the reduction of "excess human resources engaged in agriculture" by two million, or by 1/3 of their previous number.