The Food Safety Enhancement Act (HR 2749) that passed the House in July and its counterpart in the Senate, the Food Safety Modernization Act (S 510), will enable transnational corporations to tighten their grip over the global food system. Under the pretext of food safety, the legislation will facilitate the off-shoring of our food supply, allowing powerful transnational corporations to move commodities and finished products more easily between their international subsidiaries, greasing the way for further concentration of the market. At the same time, the legislation will hyper-regulate less well-capitalized farming and processing operations out of business. Within a short time frame, small- and medium-scale farmers, processors, and distributors will fall victim to its business-busting and job-killing requirements.
Furthermore, this self-styled safety reform will make our food less safe, not more. How could that be? The reason food safety in the U.S. will actually decrease is to be found in the WTO rules, specifically the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement, that requires developed countries to accept less developed countries food safety standards as "equivalent" to their domestic standards. Simply put: The overriding -- though unpublicized -- motivation for passing this legislation is to make the importation of food into developed countries less burdensome for transnational corporations. To achieve that goal, vested interests want to harmonize international standards. So, while our farmers' operations would be held to increasingly higher standards that demand costly testing, tracking, fees, and extensive, burdensome paperwork, transnational corporations will be able to more easily shift production anywhere it's cheaper and less regulated to produce. More of what we used to produce ourselves will be imported.
In addition, the authority of local and state regulatory agencies will be usurped by Food and Drug Administration, so that it can align that is, harmonize -- its regulations with international standards developed by powerful vested interests. Though no one in the corporate-owned media can be bothered to bring it up, unelected and unaccountable supranational bodies will set policies that govern how food is allowed to be grown in the US.
Once implemented, this legislation will ensure that the dominant industrial global food system is anointed as the only legitimate manner of food production and distribution, a deception that amounts to a covert continuation of the Enclosure Movement. Just as the Enclosure acts during the 17th through 19th centuries drove peasants off what was once communal land, the food safety legislation will serve to bar small- and medium-sized business people from engaging in food production. It will essentially seize the most of basic human rights and bestow upon the well capitalized and connected a monopoly on food production.
Of course, there are other ways to improve food safety that do not require sacrificing US jobs and businesses. It would be unconscionable for Congress to grant the FDA police-like powers over how and ultimately who produces our food without first considering alternatives to that which is being pushed by those behind this legislation who have greatly exaggerated the food safety "crisis."
Job, Jobs, Jobs
Few would disagree with the statement that this country is in dire need of jobs. The forces behind globalization have gutted one sector of our economy after another as industry after industry relocates their operations to foreign countries where labor could be had for less money and fewer, if any, benefits. Even white-collar workers, who erroneously believed themselves immune from the off-shoring of jobs, are continuing to feel the effects of the controlled demolition of our economy. And, with no visible shame, the media sell citizens a "job-less recovery" (while in 2009 Fortune 500 companies tripled their profits to $391 billion). But one sector of the economy promises real job creation: local food. However, if we don't wise up in time, US farmers will find agriculture off-shored, too, "for our own good."
The local food movement is about more than just healthy food. It offers a real way to rebuild, revitalize and stabilize our local and regional economies. Local food provides us an opportunity to heal individuals, their communities and their environment. As John Ikerd, Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Economics at the University of Missouri, Columbia, takes up the issue in a presentation entitled "Reweaving the Fabric of Rural America: Food as a Common Thread." Ikerd says that "If we are to succeed in this effort, we must recognize that we are not creating a new landscape but are mending a landscape that has been ravaged by forces that are quite capable of ravaging again. Thus, we must reweave the torn fabric or rural America with thread strong enough to withstand the inevitable ravages of time." 
Ikerd also says that "We need to understand the nature of the forces resisting our efforts to reweave the economic, ecological, and social fabric of rural places. We need to understand that increases in unemployment, poverty, and public dependency in rural areas are all symptoms of the continued extraction of economic wealth or capital from rural areas. Erosion of soil, degradation of landscapes, and pollution of air and water are all symptoms of the continued extraction of natural resources or ecological capital from rural areas."
Faced with this jobless recovery that's perfectly acceptable to big business and government, people need to rely on themselves and each other to self organize in order to create a viable alternative. If you look around, you can see it happening: As John Tozzi writes in Business Week, "Entrepreneurs are flocking to local food, starting businesses devoted to producing and delivering food within their communities. Just as consumers focus new attention on what we eat and where it comes from, farmers, foodmakers, restaurants, retailers, distributors, and processors are rethinking the business models behind it. They want to create enterprises that will succeed in the long run for local food to be more than just a fad or a luxury for wealthy Western consumers."