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March 14, 2009

A solemn walk through HR 875

By Linn Cohen-Cole

Food and Water Watch put out information on HR 875 to counter "myths" and "rumors" on the internet that the bill would criminalize organic farming and take over seeds. It gives no specifics to back up its "facts," so the following close up view of the bill and accompanying commentary offers the reader a chance to decide for themselves what is myth and what is fact.

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By Sue Diederich and Linn Cohen-Cole

Last updated March 16, 2009 at 1AM Eastern to correct formatting issues, and to add a related YouTube video by Free Speech TV.

The Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) sent out information about HR 875, which lists 'facts' to counter 'myths' and 'rumors' on the internet.  It gives no specifics to back up its 'facts,' so the following close up view of the bill and accompanying commentary offers readers a chance to decide for themselves what is myth and what is fact. 

Sue Diederich heads the Illinois Independent Consumers and Farmers Association, an organization formed to protect the rights of farmers and consumers to deal directly with each other without government interference.  Neither of us are lawyers, but we both can read.  We invite progressive headliners to read the bills themselves and provide their own analysis.  The Left needs to understand what their conservative brothers and sisters in farming view as an alarming attempt to seize absolute control of all attempts at private (non-corporate), healthy, organic food growing and sharing. ~LCC

 

People seem to expect HR 875 to be titled "The Criminalization of Organic Farming and the Take over of the US Food Supply." When they don't see any words to that effect anywhere in the bill, they declare "this bill is fine" and those seeing dangers are "alarmists."  Do they think the industrial side is composed of fools?  These are the same people who make cheery cereals with cartoon characters on the box when, inside, high fructose corn syrup is all over the cereal which comes from Bt-corn associated with diabetes.  HFCS is, too, and there is an epidemic of diabetes here even among children.  They know how to package.  Why do people understand that industrial food inside a box can be a problem and yet are so innocent about looking at the bills, not realizing there is packaging there, too, or how much is at stake that the public and even legislators not see since this is about taking control. The industrial side isn't stupid. 

Understanding parts of the bill at times depends on smelling smoke as you read it. Here in the US, we still have only smoke ... an Ohio state ag department SWAT team raid on an organic coop, Pennsylvania ag department raids on horse and buggy Mennonites, California setting coliform levels so low fresh milk dairy farmers would need cows that produced pasteurized milk right out the udder, arrest and handcuffing of a single mother in front of her children for selling goat milk, the USDA paying its agents bonuses for foreclosing on farms, ...  But in the EU where 60% of the Polish farmers are now gone because of identical bills enacted into law there, and 60 UK farmers have committed suicide, there is fire.  And in Iraq, where they have been rendered helpless serfs by the theft of their country's seeds and criminalization of farmers' collection of their own seed, it is roaring.  And in India where 182,000 farmers have committed suicide since the WTO and IMF got hold of agriculture and our Big Ag firms went in there, and 8 million farmers have left the land, it is out of control.  

The World Trade Organization (WTO), run by the multinational meat packers and genetic engineering corporations, want HR 875, here.  The bills are "harmonized" rules for globalization of food and lower food safety standards to allow for it.  Those corporations are members of NIAA, a corporate consortium that brought NAIS, created by Anne Veneman, to the USDA to be made into law.  

We begin with PASA offering Food & Water Watch's take on the bills to its members. PASA's assertions are in Times New Roman.

Myths and Facts H.R. 875 –The Food Safety Modernization Act 

PASA members: The following information about a bill now before Congress, HR 875, was developed by our friends at Food and Water Watch, and forwarded to us by the National Sustainable Ag Coalition (NSAC), of which PASA is a member.

This Myth/Fact sheet was developed to help answer some of the rumors that are fairly rampant on the Internet right now. We will keep a close eye on the situation, and share further updates from NSAC as they become available.  

MYTH:  H.R. 875 "makes it illegal to grow your own garden" and would result in the "criminalization of the backyard gardener." 

FACT:   There is no language in the bill that would regulate, penalize, or shut down backyard gardens. This bill is focused on ensuring the safety of foods sold in supermarkets. 

Though private residences are not specifically included, nor are they specifically excluded. While this does not immediately affect homeowners growing tomatoes in the backyard, entered testimony leaves the door open for just that in the future. Referring back to the Bio-Terrorism Act, in a discussion on this very topic and entered in the official record of debate on the interim rule, the same argument exists here and no new definitions or exclusions have been provided in HR 875 - and "reasonable" is a subjective term in theory as well as practice...

(13)  FOOD ESTABLISHMENT-

(A) IN GENERAL- The term 'food establishment' means a slaughterhouse (except those regulated under the Federal Meat Inspection Act or the Poultry Products Inspection Act), factory, warehouse, or facility owned or operated by a person located in any State that processes food or a facility that holds, stores, or transports food or food ingredients.

Now, every home in the country holds food after buying it from the grocery store. Will they be included too?  Heck, no. They're going to be magnanimous and say that, while they could, they won't right now.

Response excerpted from the same Interim Rule:

"FDA has concluded that private individual residences are not ''facilities'' for purposes of the registration provision of the Bioterrorism Act. Under the Bioterrorism Act, the term ''facility'' includes ''any factory, warehouse, or establishment.''

Congress did not specify any definition for these terms. Under their common meanings, the terms can include private residences. For example, according to Webster's II New Riverside University Dictionary (1994), the most relevant definition of ''establishment'' is ''a business firm, club, institution, or residence, including its possessions and employees.''

However, ''[I]n determining whether Congress has specifically addressed the question at issue, the court should not confine itself to examining a particular statutory provision in isolation....  It is a fundamental canon of statutory construction that the words of a statute must be read in their context and with a view to their place in the overall statutory scheme." FDA v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., 529 U.S. 120, 121 (2000). 

Other parts of the registration provisions in Section 415 of the FD&C Act indicate that Congress only intended businesses to register.  This raises a question as to whether Congress intended that private individual residences be considered facilities, even though food is manufactured/processed, packed, or held at such residences.

For instance, a registrant is required to submit ''the name and address of each facility at which, and all trade names under which, the registrant conducts business...'' (21 U.S.C. 350d(a)(2)). 

Thus it is unclear whether Congress intended all individual private residences at which food is manufactured/processed, packed, or held to be included in the term ''facility.'' Furthermore, the requirement that a facility submit its ''name'' as well as its ''trade names'' raises a question as to whether Congress intended ''facility'' to include private individual residences since it is unlikely that a home would have a name or a trade name. 

Where the words of the statute are ambiguous, an agency may make a reasonable Interpretation of the statute. Chevron, USA, Inc. v. NRDC, Inc., 467 U.S. 837, 842-843 (1984); Brown & Williamson, supra, at 132.

Consistent with the language of section 415(a)(2), the agency concludes that interpreting the term ''facility'' to exclude private individual residences is a reasonable construction for purposes of registration.  This interpretation, however, does not necessarily preclude a reasonable construction of other provisions of the FD&C Act to include such residences. Judicial interpretation can change, and easily include residences.

MYTH:    H.R. 875 would mean a "goodbye to farmers markets" because the bill would "require such a burdensome complexity of rules, inspections, licensing, fees, and penalties for each farmer who wishes to sell locally - a fruit stand, at a farmers market." 

FACT:   There is no language in the bill that would result in farmers markets being regulated, penalized any fines, or shut down.  Farmers markets would be able to continue to flourish under the bill.  In fact, the bill would insist that imported foods meet strict safety standards to ensure that unsafe imported foods are not competing with locally grown foods. 

Section 406 clearly states all food offered for sale will be viewed as being in interstate commerce and subject to the provisions of this bill.  

C. 406. PRESUMPTION.

In any action to enforce the requirements of the food safety law, the connection with interstate commerce required for jurisdiction shall be presumed to exist

(8) CATEGORY 4 FOOD ESTABLISHMENT- The term 'category 4 food establishment' means a food establishment that processes all other categories of food products not described in paragraphs (5) through (7).

(9) CATEGORY 5 FOOD ESTABLISHMENT- The term 'category 5 food establishment' means a food establishment that stores, holds, or transports food products prior to delivery for retail sale.

(14) FOOD PRODUCTION FACILITY- The term 'food production facility' means any farm, ranch, orchard, vineyard, aquaculture facility, or confined animal-feeding operation.

Say it again and again, "this applies to farms and can apply to homes." It certainly looks to me that families baking cookies for bake sales could easily be included. 

SEC. 206. FOOD PRODUCTION FACILITIES.

(a) Authorities- In carrying out the duties of the Administrator and the purposes of this Act, the Administrator shall have the authority, with respect to food production facilities, to--

(1) visit and inspect food production facilities in the United States and in foreign countries to determine if they are operating in compliance with the requirements of the food safety law;

(2) review food safety records as required to be kept by the Administrator under section 210 and for other food safety purposes;

(3) set good practice standards to protect the public and animal health and promote food safety;

(4) conduct monitoring and surveillance of animals, plants, products, or the environment, as appropriate; and

(5) collect and maintain information relevant to public health and farm practices.

(b) Inspection of Records- A food production facility shall permit the Administrator upon presentation of appropriate credentials and at reasonable times and in a reasonable manner, to have access to and ability to copy all records maintained by or on behalf of such food production establishment in any format (including paper or electronic) and at any location, that are necessary to assist the Administrator--

(1) to determine whether the food is contaminated, adulterated, or otherwise not in compliance with the food safety law; or

(2) to track the food in commerce.

(c) Regulations- Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Administrator, in consultation with the Secretary of Agriculture and representatives of State departments of agriculture, shall promulgate regulations to establish science-based minimum standards for the safe production of food by food production facilities. Such regulations shall--

(1) consider all relevant hazards, including those occurring naturally, and those that may be unintentionally or intentionally introduced;

(2) require each food production facility to have a written food safety plan that describes the likely hazards and preventive controls implemented to address those hazards;

(3) include, with respect to growing, harvesting, sorting, and storage operations, minimum standards related to fertilizer use, nutrients, hygiene, packaging, temperature controls, animal encroachment, and water;

Notice they mention harvestingsorting and storage operations; then watch below. 

To follow how this will be done, you must understand that: 

1.  there is a small list inside the FDA called "sources of seed contamination" 
2.  in which they have now defined "seed" as food,  
3.  so seeds can be controlled under "food safety."   

Those seeds (so far) include: 

seeds eaten raw such as flax, poppy sesame, etc.; 
sprouting seeds such as wheat, beans, alfalfa, most greens, etc.; 
seeds pressed into oils such as corn, sunflower, canola, etc.;
seeds used as animal feed such as soy ....  

That is most seeds.  Seeds are essential to life and thus to freedom.

The "sources of seed contamination" include five little items:

agricultural water
manure (but NOT chemical pesticides or fertilizers)
harvesting, transporting and seed cleaning equipment 
seed storage facilities

What you must realize is that seed cleaning equipment is THE single most critical piece of equipment for sustainable agriculture.  It is how we save organic seed.  It is the machinery used after plants "go to seed" to separate out (sort) the seeds from the plant material so the farmer can collect (harvest) and then save (put in storage) seed for the next year at little cost.  With his own seed, the farmer stays free of patented, genetically engineered, corporately privatized seeds.

They never mention seeds but this is precisely how they will criminalize seed banking and all holding of seeds.  

You must also understand that Monsanto is getting rid of the people who do the seed cleaning and many other means of our having access to seed. This year, 2009, seed cleaning equipment is now illegal in some parts of the country which tips us off to both the intent to control seeds in this way and to how they could do things under this bill.

How can they make such vital equipment illegal?  Quietly, and by saying it contaminates food.  "Contaminate" is their favorite word since the public fears the deadly contamination that industry itself - not farmers - has caused.  Scare the public and thus push for "food safety standards" to be set.  

And to eliminate seed cleaning equipment, they have now set the standards so seed cleaning (the simple separation of seed from plant) will now require a million to a million and a half dollar building and/or equipment ... per line of seed.  

So, a farmer who has been seed cleaning flax for 40 years with a hand made seed cleaner can't sell flax on the market anymore, though there are NO instances of anyone ever having gotten sick from seed cleaning equipment.  A farmer who has been cleaning wheat, corn and soy each year with the same perfectly fine equipment would now need three to four and half million dollars for three pieces of equipment to continue.

(The FDA isn't so bar-setting when it comes to other things like melamine in baby formula, though it is proven to sicken and kill infants, initially denying the melamine was in our baby formula and then quickly inventing a "foods safety" standard to okay it.) 

Organic farmers are not aware of this happening, perhaps because the left is being treated with kid gloves until HR 875 and related bills are/were passed.  Meanwhile, the FDA and USDA have been tromping on traditional (many of them farming organically, by the way) farmers for years.  The organic community is disconnected from them so hasn't been aware of what is happening to them. Indie farmers have a history of no one listening to them, which is too bad because it is they who are the ones bringing the warning that these bills are deadly.  The organic community, measuring against its own seeming safety, hasn't heard or understood.

Notice, though, that because a single "foods safety" bar has been raised, in time no one will be able to get organic seeds in any number because it will be illegal for all farmers to sell them to anyone.

Now, look at the last item on the list: seed storage facilities.

They would be careful not to ban them all outright given the extreme reaction they would get.  But now the method is more clear.  "Food safety" is the weapon and public fear is the driver and they only need to set the bar at the level that is impossible to meet.  

Farmers, gardeners, seed saving exchanges, seed companies, scientific seed projects, and seed banks, all require "seed storage facilities."  All are working overtime to protect biodiversity that is rapidly disappearing because of ... genetic engineering.  

Set the standard for "food safety" and certification high enough that no one can afford it and punish anyone who tries to save seed in a multitude of ways that have worked fine for thousands of years, and presto, you have just criminalized seed banking.  

The penalties, I will assume, will be tremendous, the better to protect us from nothing dangerous whatever, but to make monopoly over seed more absolute.  One is left with control over farmers, and end to seed exchanges, to organic seed companies, to university programs developing nice normal hybrids.

When you know that Monsanto with the help of the US government plundered ancient and rare seed banks in Iraq that held seeds with a genetic heritage (a biohistory belonging to all of us) going back 1000s of years and then made it a crime for farmers there to collect or use their own normal and non-patented seeds off their own land, you see how extreme the intent to control is.  

Now, perhaps it is possible to see how the identical thing is being done here, only it comes in a heavily, heavily disguised way - through "food safety" that isn't at all - and in only one tiny little paragraph within a very large bill.  

The Iraqis are now abjectly dependent on Monsanto and the US for survival itself and will have to pay whatever prices are set for food.  They cannot just grow their own and be free.  So, no matter what form of government they may have, they are now slaves because the control over them is that extreme.  Kissinger was right - control food and you control people.

We are inches from this ourselves.  The left needs to wake up.

This trick of setting bars above any ability to be in the game, is similar to how blacks had been treated.  Click here.  This trick of setting bars above any ability to be in the game while imposing fines that destroy people who fail to meet that standard, is sadistic.  Then, taking the land as confiscatory payment, is theft by government become totalitarian and colonizing its own people.

There are other items of the list which surely will be controlled as well.  In toto, that little list is the deconstruction of farming itself and given the inclusion of manure, especially of organic farming.

(4) include, with respect to animals raised for food, minimum standards related to the animal's health, feed, and environment which bear on the safety of food for human consumption;

(5) provide a reasonable period of time for compliance, taking into account the needs of small businesses for additional time to comply;

(6) provide for coordination of education and enforcement activities by State and local officials, as designated by the Governors of the respective States; and

(7) include a description of the variance process under subsection (d) and the types of permissible variances which the Administrator may grant under such process.

(d) Variances- States and foreign countries that export produce intended for consumption in the United States may request from the Administrator variances from the requirements of the regulations under subsection (c). A request shall--

(1) be in writing;

(2) describe the reasons the variance is necessary;

(3) describe the procedures, processes, and practices that will be followed under the variance to ensure produce is not adulterated; and

(4) contain any other information required by the Administrator.

(e) Approval or Disapproval of Variances- If the Administrator determines after review of a request under subsection (d) that the requested variance provides equivalent protections to those promulgated under subsection (c), the Administrator may approve the request. The Administrator shall deny a request if it is--

(1) not sufficiently detailed to permit a determination;

(2) fails to cite sufficient grounds for allowing a variance; or

(3) does not provide reasonable assurances that the produce will not be adulterated.

(f) Enforcement- The Administrator may coordinate with the agency or department designated by the Governor of each State to perform activities to ensure compliance with this section.

(g) Imported Produce- Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Administrator shall promulgate regulations to ensure that raw agricultural commodities and minimally processed produce imported into the United States can meet standards for food safety, inspection, labeling, and consumer protection that are at least equal to standards applicable to such commodities and produce produced in the United States.

Administrator shall have authority to grant exclusions to foreign producers.

While it may be obvious to us that this is onerous beyond any capability of coping with it, it needs to be said and described in some detail what it would actually mean for farmers or for us.  Here in story form is a taste of it, so anyone could feel the insanity of it. 

SEC. 201. ADMINISTRATION OF NATIONAL PROGRAM.

(a) In General- The Administrator shall--

(1) develop, administer, and annually update a national food safety program (referred to in this section as the 'program') to protect public health; and

(2) ensure that persons who produce, process, or distribute food meet their responsibility to prevent or minimize food safety hazards related to their products.

This is where it would be very helpful to realize how astoundingly onerous that long list is and what its impact would be on any farmer who previously only needed to load up his goods and bringing them to a farmers market - though that in itself is a time consuming, physically effortful job that often begins pre-dawn on those mornings and ends late in the day, all of it separate from growing the food and boxing it up to bring.  

A small farm is not an industry with staff to fill out paperwork, handle licensing, manage all the industrial bureaucracy that is being loaded on here, but is most often a couple who is also taking care of a family in addition to growing crops and raising animals.  These are precisely the people whom we need most as part of our food system and who will clearly be crushed by the grossly inappropriate application of such rules to small farms.

PASA writes: 

MYTH:  H.R. 875 would result in the "death of organic farming.

FACT:   There is no language in the bill that would stop organic farming. The National Organic Program (NOP) is under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).  The Food Safety Modernization Act only addresses food safety issues under the jurisdiction of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

Of course, they are not going to come straight out and say it.  But breaking this down to what is actually involved, you find that: 

The administrator is charged with developing minimum standards, not maximum limits on feed, fertilizers, nutrients etc- right here goes organics.

Second, this act creates a new agency, and the FDA becomes the Federal Drug and Device Agency. It combines offices currently under FDA and Commerce Department (National Marine Fisheries).

Third, FSA is to cooperate with the USDA in "promulgating rules and orders" which will have the bearing and impact of law

To refer back to the previous "Myth" - the one about foreign food having to meet our standard - Alaska, Hawaii, US territories and foreign countries may apply for variances, so... NO... imported foods do NOT necessarily have to meet the same standards. In fact, many countries have had to lower their standards due to WTO rules and trade agreements, and Australia had to further lower their regulatory standards when they instituted the NLIS program (their version of NAIS). There is no reason to think we would not have to do the same.

Now, comes the response to whether the bills will mean the end of organic farming.  This section should be a major education for people in how things have been working.  This is in response to the myth that the bills will not affect organic farming.

Animal health has traditionally meant medication and hormones, petroleum-based fly sprays and all sorts of other goodies. 

Feed can be anything (GMO soy or corn anyone?). 

Environment can mean pesticides, herbicides used on pastures (IF pasturing is deemed "healthy."  Internationally, this is NOT so for poultry.  In fact, in many countries there is NO outdoor poultry anymore - by law). 

Nutrients are not necessarily whole food based, many are produced synthetically, and again, petroleum based.

Animal encroachment prevention can be anything from a scarecrow or plastic owl to poison bait and bullets. Not one of these things is specified, yet there is no place for real public opinion in the decision making process provided. I will grant that there is usually a public comment period for federal register entries, for whatever that has been worth in the past.

Meaning, it has been worth little to nothing.  And obviously, the public is left having to respond ad infinitum to one issue after another.  Someone compared the number of rules and regulations being thrown at us to carpet bombing, so you can't comment on everything, even if it helped which is clearly often doesn't.

SEC. 206. FOOD PRODUCTION FACILITIES.

(a) AUTHORITIES.-In carrying out the duties of the Administrator and the purposes of this Act, the Administrator shall have the authority, with respect to food production facilities, to

(1) visit and inspect food production facilities in the United States and in foreign countries to determine if they are operating in compliance with the requirements of the food safety law;

(2) review food safety records as required to be kept by the Administrator under section 210 and for other food safety purposes;

(3) set good practice standards to protect the public and animal health and promote food safety;

This is where words that sound so friendly and innocuous and even good are code words for international rules set by the WTO.  These rules define industrial requirements, which do not fit real farming in the least, much less organic farming.

This is where insane, anti-nature, anti-farming rules like "animals and crops can't exist on the same farm" come into play.  Where wild animals aren't ever supposed to be near crops so the government has been poisoning deer and frogs.  The list of such manufacturing rules for farming is long, and each very much "efficiency manager comes and wrecks the farm."

(4) conduct monitoring and surveillance of animals, plants, products, or the environment, as appropriate; and

Please, those of you who find the idea of NSA-spying intolerable, look carefully at those words.  Now, imagine it were your farm, your home on that farm, and realize that the USDA and FDA have been run by and the new agency will be run by Monsanto, Cargill, Tysons, and ADM.  Their interest in helping consumers have safer food is nil. The bills are meant to eliminate farmers as is now rapidly occurring in the EU with identical ("harmonized") bills, now law there.  

(5) collect and maintain information relevant to public health and farm practices. 

Pause here to consider the implications of each of those on someone's home - their family's farm. This is quite different from applying them to industrial sites where no one lives.  Beyond that, these powers are so broad and vague, they are dangerous if only in that.  

Those things listed open the door to total control, warrantless entry and perpetual surveillance.  Notice how innocuous they have made it appear, even beneficial - always about public health.  Yet, the insincerity of this is boggling - the USDA and Big Ag have worked to prevent inspections to the point where farmers have had to actually sue to get them done, even after offering to pay for them.  

(b) INSPECTION OF RECORDS.-A food production facility shall permit the Administrator upon presentation of appropriate credentials and at reasonable times and in a reasonable manner...

Who defines "reasonable"?  Does a farmer have to go to court each time there is an "unreasonable" manner and time?  How wide open do we push the door to Big Ag-corrupted government control over farmers - the people creating the only safe food?

Look carefully and realize the USDA right now is countenancing state ag departments conducting terrorizing raids on non-corporate farms across the country.  Imagine it were your home and USDA agents banging on your door to demand paper work and if you don't have it, facing fines that would bankrupt you in a moment and lose you your land and home.

... to have access to and ability to copy all records maintained by or on behalf of such food production establishment in any format (including paper or electronic) and at any location, that are necessary to assist the Administrator-

Imagine again.

       (1) to determine whether the food is contaminated, adulterated, or otherwise not in compliance with the food safety law; or

Be aware that in Pennsylvania where there has been an aggressive effort to destroy fresh milk dairy farmers, the tests by the states repeatedly do not match those of independent testers but the harm to farmers from such false tests and reporting of them is done and can't be undone.  Be aware that the USDA has a record of creating test results damaging to small farmers while it refuses to inspect even when farmers ask to pay.

(2) to track the food in commerce

This could mean farmers bringing food to markets with USDA agents surveilling.

(c) REGULATIONS.-Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Administrator, in consultation with the Secretary of Agriculture and representatives of State departments of agriculture, shall promulgate regulations to establish science-based minimum standards for the safe production of food by food production facilities. Such regulations shall- 

Everything vague in this bill is being left to be filled in later, and by whom? The Food Safety Tsar?  The Administrator?  Right now, to give people pause and to wake them up a bit to how this is not a wise idea but in fact absurd, it appears that person could be Michael Taylor.  He is a Monsanto lawyer infamous for approving rBGH - the first genetically engineered product ever approved - over the objections of doctors, scientists who said the numbers were being rigged, and the public.  

How can anyone leave a bill so utterly vague in the hands of anyone to decide later what it all means?  Do we not make laws here with specific meaning anymore?  Or do we simply let totalitarian rules be applied by industry against non-industrial entities like farms and homes in any way they wish and with immense police power behind what they, for their own interests, decide?

(1) consider all relevant hazards, including those occurring naturally, and those that may be unintentionally or intentionally introduced;

Goodbye raw milk.  

(2) require each food production facility to have a written food safety plan that describes the likely hazards and preventive controls implemented to address those hazards;

(3) include, with respect to growing, harvesting, sorting, and storage operations, minimum standards related to fertilizer use, nutrients, hygiene, packaging, temperature controls, animal encroachment, and water;

Goodbye organic farming.

(4) include, with respect to animals raised for food, minimum standards related to the animal's health, feed, and environment which bear on the safety of food for human consumption;

Goodbye organic farming and grass-fed animals.

(5) provide a reasonable period of time for compliance, taking into account the needs of small businesses for additional time to comply;

Oh, heavens, this looks like padding to throw in the word "reasonable" again but it has no explicit meaning whatever and so no safety for a soul.

(6) provide for coordination of education and enforcement activities by State and local officials, as designated by the Governors of the respective States; and

This appears to be where Homeland Security works with the USDA for such things as "depopulation of animals" - for which six meetings are already scheduled in June and into which livestock owners are not allowed though foreigners are.  

These "depopulation" plans look like what is happening in Asia where animal disease caused by industry (and worth a fortune to the pharmaceutical industry) are then used by industry to wipe out its competition in heritage breeds of animals on small farms and to substitute genetically engineered animals that are patented by industry and thus owned by industry.  

(7) include a description of the variance process under subsection (d) and the types of permissible variances which the Administrator may grant under such process.

(d) VARIANCES.-States and foreign countries that export produce intended for consumption in the United States may request from the Administrator variances from the requirements of the regulations under subsection (c).

This is where the "fact" that foreign countries must meet our food safety requirements collapses by simply reading the bill, as reproduced above. 

PASA's "facts" are misleading:

MYTH:  The bill would implement a national animal ID system.

FACT:  There is no language in the bill that would implement a national animal ID system.  Animal identification issues are under the jurisdiction of the USDA.  The Food Safety Modernization Act addresses issues under the jurisdiction of the FDA.  

This bill mandates NAIS by claiming that it is already law, then contradicts itself by citing COOL (country of origin labeling), which specifically prohibits mandatory tracking.  It justifies NAIS by claiming that the American Herbal Products Assn. (AHPA) gives authority - but this is a bill (and supposedly a program) concerning interstate commerce (though any item of food for sale is "presumed" to be in interstate commerce) and AHPA does not regulate interstate commerce. 

How many contradictions in a single section do we need before red flags go up? Yes, and put up red flags for whole bills if this central part is so corruptly being pushed.  

It is absurd to claim that NAIS is not mandatory.  Food and Water Watch has gotten this and many other items wrong.  That would be fine if the whole organic movement and all our farms and freedom were not riding on our seeing these very real threats and stopping those bills completely - not compromising on them, but demanding their complete withdrawal.

(a) In General- The Administrator, in order to protect the public health, shall establish a national traceability system that enables the Administrator to retrieve the history, use, and location of an article of food through all stages of its production, processing, and distribution.

(b) Applicability- Traceability requirements under this section shall apply to food from food production facilities, food establishments, and foreign food establishments.

(c) Requirements-

(1) STANDARDS- The Administrator shall establish standards for the type of information, format, and timeframe for food production facilities and food establishments to submit records to aid the Administrator in effectively retrieving the history, use, and location of an item of food.

(2) RULE OF CONSTRUCTION- Nothing in this section shall be construed as requiring the Administrator to prescribe a specific technology for the maintenance of records or labeling of food to carry out the requirements of this section.

(3) AVAILABILITY OF RECORDS FOR INSPECTION- Any records that are required by the Administrator under this section shall be available for inspection by the Administrator upon oral or written request.

(4) DEMONSTRATION OF ABILITY- The Administrator, during any inspection, may require a food establishment to demonstrate its ability to trace an item of food and submit the information in the format and time frame required under paragraph (1).

(d) Relationship to Other Requirements-

(1) CONSISTENCY WITH EXISTING STATUTES AND REGULATIONS- To the extent possible, the Administrator should establish the national traceability system under this section to be consistent with existing statutes and regulations that require recordkeeping or labeling for identifying the origin or history of food or food animals.

Does this mean consistent with international laws under the WTO?  Is this a means of locking everything together into Smart Grid or NAFTA or CAFTA or GATT and even, the worst of all, CODEX?

(2) EXISTING LAWS- For purposes of this subsection, the Administrator should review the following:

(A) Country of origin labeling requirements of subtitle D of the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 (7 U.S.C. 1638 et seq.).

(B) The Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act of 1930 (7 U.S.C. 499a-t).

(C) Country of origin labeling requirements of section 304 of the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1340).

(D) The National Animal Identification System as authorized by the Animal Health Protection Act of 2002 (7 U.S.C. 8301 et seq.).

Another 'myth' vs. 'fact' according to PASA:

MYTH: The bill is supported by the large agribusiness industry.

FACT:  No large agribusiness companies have expressed support for this bill. This bill is being supported by several Members of Congress who have strong progressive records on issues involving farmers markets, organic farming, and locally-grown foods.   

Who almost certainly have not read the bills or can't interpret how it will work to destroy farmers, organic food, seed banking, and all of us.

Perhaps others know details on the organizations listed below, and why they might be supporting a bill that is so threatening to real food safety and to the survival of our farms and organic farming.  PASA reports:

Also, H.R. 875 is the only food safety legislation that has been supported by all the major consumer and food safety groups, including:   

  Center for Foodborne Illness Research & Prevention

            Center for Science in the Public Interest America

The Consumer Federation of America is a long-standing consumer organization based in Washington, DC. However, it has accepted funding from the Rockefeller Foundation to "develop an optimum regulatory regime" for genetically engineered food. 

Consumers Union -- Food & Water Watch

FWW just put out a description of the bill in which it is apparent they do not understand what is in it and what it will do.  With that as their starting point, they support it.

The Pew Charitable Trusts

They are also connected to the Rockefeller Foundation, and involved with them in mandatory vaccinations programs around the world and issues of reducing population.

Safe Tables Our Priority 

There is no list here of groups opposing this bill, which include the people whose lives are most at risk from it and who know its dangers the best and who should have been the first people consulted.  Instead, they have been shut out and when they have tried to report extreme dangers, they are ignored, dismissed, and marginalized.  Perhaps the other organizations listed here are as unfamiliar with the bill's contents and ramifications as FWW.

If you consider that not only is Rosa DeLauro married to Stanley Greenberg, who boasts Monsanto as one of his clients, but also that she receives the largest donations from agribusiness PAC's of just about anyone in Congress, does industry NEED to come out and say they support this particular bill? If cash to the sponsor doesn't count, and if formal positions supporting various specific aspects of the bill do not count, then what does? Would there not be massive public backlash against it if industry DID take a formal stand on every bill they want to see passed?

By the same token, I've not seen a single industrial ag company come out and oppose this bill, either. They have all been conspicuously silent. I seem to remember that they threw up quite a fuss over COOL, and caused enforcement to fall behind by more than 7 years... Not to mention the garbage with loopholes we've had to deal with since enforcement began. (What good does a "Canada, US, Mexico" label do for anybody? Especially with BSE (mad cow disease) in Canada and TB coming in daily from Mexico?) Where's the hoot and holler over this?

PASA also writes:

MYTH:  The bill will pass the Congress next week without amendments or debate.

FACT:  Food safety legislation has yet to be considered by any Congressional committee.

Alerts came from those who first discovered the bills were there, inserted only one week after Vilsack had said the USDA wasn't even considering centralizing the FDA and USDA at this time, so people saw how similar the bills were, knew how fast other things were being shoved through Congress without even reading those bills, and estimated how fast this could happen.  Perhaps with people alerted now, these bogus "food safety" bills can be stopped by the organic community once it realizes they will destroy utterly it.

However, since one of us did have the luxury of listening to the farce taking place on the floor of the House of Representatives on March 11 concerning HR1105 (which funds NAIS among its hundreds of other projects) while awaiting the Livestock, Dairy and Poultry subcommittee hearing on NAIS - we have no doubt that this bill will move quickly now that 1105 has passed and since it has so many co-sponsors. 

The Representatives were honest enough to admit that though the Senators claimed every bill in the Omnibus Act had been heard and passed in the previous session, when in actuality, some 100 of the 170 bills in the package had NOT. The "ominous Omnibus Act" as several Representatives called it, went from introduction to the President in less than 13 working days.  I really have to question just whose side those groups are really on that would support this bill.

Our food safety system was trashed in 1995 by Secretary of Agriculture, Ann Veneman (Board member of Monsanto).  She appointed Dan Amstutz (VP of Cargill) who wrote the World Trade Organization Agreement on Agriculture.  Unlike GATT, WTO has major clout from trade sanctions and control of 90% of the international trade.  (See The WTO and the Politics of GMO.)  The World Trade Organization:

"Aims to ensure that governments do not use quarantine and food safety requirements as unjustified trade barriers... It provides Member countries with a right to implement traceability {NAIS} as an SPS measure."

The WTO did away with "quarantine and food safety requirements" that gave us "the safest food in the world" and is graciously going to allow Farmers to track AND COUNT the world's livestock for them instead.  Now HR 875 and an FDA release indicate all food will be tracked and all food producers will have food inspections.  With the threat of fines up to a million dollars a day, this will eliminate all the independent farms that have acted as a check on Corporate AG.

The FDA wants to implement a more effective trace-back process, using technologies to rapidly and precisely track the origin and destination of contaminated foods, feed and ingredients.

Nanotech in food can make it happen. "California's Oxonica makes Nanobarcodes from nano-particles that contain silver and gold stripes varying in width, length and amount, such that billions of combinations can be created to tag individual products. The barcodes have been primarily used to assure brand and authenticity in pharmaceuticals, but applications could be forthcoming in tracing food batches."   

In regard to pets:

HR 875 uses "animals" and then "animals raised for food" and there are no exclusions.  The Animal Welfare Act had exclusions for livestock, pets and people raising three or less litters of puppies a year. Therefore, pets are not excluded.

"[S]et good practice standards to protect the public and animal health and promote food safety;

"[C]onduct monitoring and surveillance of animals, plants, products, or the environment, as appropriate;

"[W]ith respect to animals raised for food, minimum standards related to the animal's health, feed, and environment which bear on the safety of food for human consumption...."

In regard to gardens:

The Feds already have plans for controlling food "FROM FARM TO FORK" including home preparation since September of 1995 (WTO ratified in 1995).

HR 875 will:

"require each food production facility to have a written food safety plan that describes the likely hazards and preventive controls implemented to address those hazards;"

"include, with respect to growing, harvesting, sorting, and storage operations, minimum standards related to fertilizer use, nutrients, hygiene, packaging, temperature controls, animal encroachment, and water"

"include, with respect to animals raised for food, minimum standards related to the animal's health, feed, and environment which bear on the safety of food for human consumption;"

"set good practice standards to protect the public and animal health and promote food safety"

"...facility owned or operated by a person located in any State that processes food or a  facility that holds, stores, or transports food or food ingredients."

Notice it does not say a person SELLING food.  It says a person holds, stores, or transports food or food ingredients. The bill specifically states it covers commerce within states, but again there is no exclusion for food raised for home use. The fact you are growing veggies for your and friends and not selling them does not exclude you.

"in any action to enforce the requirements of the food safety law, the connection with interstate commerce required for jurisdiction SHALL BE PRESUMED TO EXIST."

Under Ag Sec. Veneman, in September, 1995, the USDA's Food Safety & Inspection Service presented a 600-page document, Farm-To-Table, intended to control every step in the food chain from production to home preparation. 

This is a real life example of what has already occurred and what may be in store:

Today a state Ag inspector and two county officials show up and scare the bee-jesus out of me. First they accuse me of selling products and milk, then explain that even "giving milk products away" is illegal in California. Now everything is pasteurized, but it is illegal to share milk products in any form! They explained it was even ILLEGAL to give it to my own children if they did not live under my roof! I can't even take a lasagna dish to my grown sons home without risk of being fined, arrested and or jailed! This is OUTRAGEOUS!!!!"  Donna, Aug 12, 2008.  (See more stories on Feds raiding farms and co-ops.) 

Conclusion

The related package of "food safety" bills is totalitarian.  There are no two ways about it.  

They allow government warrantless intrusion into and extreme, detailed, surveilled control over every aspect of farmers' land and home, straight-jacketing them into a bureaucratic nightmare which precludes their even functioning as farmers.  And yet for real food safety and for food security, it is exactly farmers we need.  

We need the real food they produce and the farmland they spare and protect from industrialization and the heritage animals and seeds they raise and their knowledge about nature and animals, and we need the way of life they represent.  Free.  How interesting that to have real and clean and wholesome food, it requires that farmers have freedom.  

These bills which claim to be about "food safety" but are proven in the EU already to be about the destruction of farmers, are so frighteningly broad, they allow the government to take over our lives, too.  They allow the government to use rules written by multinational corporations within the WTO, to control whether we can garden or how, whether we chip our pets, even what happens inside our homes in our kitchens.  

These controls are all for mandating things that make money for corporations just as we are all trying to get off the corporate grid of power, fuel, food, ...  Now it is easy to appreciate people' resistance to mandated vaccines (and they keep adding more kinds).  

There is point at which we must say stop.  Our lives are our own, our property is our own, our decisions on what to eat and how to heal ourselves are our own.  We must protect our own freedom and now it is apparent how intimately tied it is those who have been providing for us forever - our farmers.

HR 875, SR 425, HR 814, HR 759 and all related bills must be withdrawn immediately and then trashed. 



Submitters Bio:

Met libertarian and conservative farmers and learned an incredible amount about farming and nature and science, as well as about government violations against them and against us all. The other side of the fence is nothing like what we've been taught to assume but great people with immense decency.

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