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General News    H3'ed 1/8/09

Food Safety Regulations: Intended quicksand for sustainable agriculture

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Message Linn Cohen-Cole

Hidden inside regulations that are not voted on by any legislators representing the public are massive bars to all involvement in farming by small farmers.  The monopolistic, unconstitutional, destructive reality of those regulations appear obvious when time is taken to look carefully.
Monsanto runs the American Seed Trade Association which has influenced the FDA to implement regulations governing seeds that MASSIVELY control importation and limit who can provide them nationally.  
The following is excerpted from a speech before the American Seed Trade Association and the American Organization of Seed Certifying Agencies at their Joint Annual Convention.  Remarks are by Lester M. Crawford, the Acting Commissioner of the FDA.  June 29, 2004
"Good morning, thank you Jim (Jim Tobin, Monsanto, Vice-Chair of ASTA) for your kind introduction. I'm pleased to meet with you this morning, and to participate in this historic joint meeting of ASTA and the Association of Seed Certifying Agencies (AOSCA).
"... Certainly seeds are the foundation for both human and animal life on earth, providing food, fiber for clothing, and many industrial products that we all use every day.
"As your meeting schedule for the remainder of the day illustrates, both organizations play an essential role in certification and conservation of seeds of all types ranging from lawn grasses, trees, and shrubs to all types of food crops nationally and globally.
What seeds are affected? 
"FDA considers a seed to be a food if it will be used for human or animal food ... For example, seed that is imported for use in animal feeds would require prior notice, as would seed to be used for human food such as sesame seeds or poppy seeds to be used in baking, or oilseeds for processing into edible oils or seed to be used in the production of edible sprouts. If the seed is to be used only for cultivation, prior notice of importation is not required."  Click here.

A partial list then would include flax, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, wheat, alfalfa, mung bean, broccoli, amaranth, corn, soy, canola, sunflower, etc.  Corporations, in conjunction with the FDA (and international agencies they also have control over) are now using "food safety" and "bioterrorism" to establish global regulations that remove normal human control over seeds.
"These new rules represent innovative solutions to 21 st century problems. They offer us new information on food production and distribution for the first time, including a complete inventory of food facilities both foreign and domestic, comprehensive information on all imported foods, and information on precisely who is handling the food throughout the entire chain of custody on either side of the border. These new rules will allow FDA to better identify potentially dangerous foods, as well as respond more quickly to new threats and to handle food borne illness outbreaks more efficiently."

One might notice that the seeds listed are not associated with any food borne illness but have - astoundingly - just been entirely redefined as sources illness, and then - going one immense step even further - as potential deadly agents of terrorism.

It would seem important, then, in this colossal redefinition of what has always been safe as now threatening, and in the application of police and military force to its potential destruction, and in the ramifications to the lives of those wholy dependent on these yesterday-normal-today-dangerous seeds, to ask who is making these gigantic alternations and their standing is an agency sincerely concerned with public health.

The FDA:

1.  Under the Clintons, Monsanto employees were appointed to head and run the FDA  where they approved their own product - rBGH - the first genetically engineered product ever approved.  The FDA approved it over strong medical objections that linked it to increased risk of cancer, and FDA scientists who reported that Monsanto was altering the data, were fired. Click here.

2.  Vioxx was left on the market for years despite FDA awareness of its dangers.  Click here.

3.  The FDA allows on the market NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as aspirin, advil, ibuprofen, despite thousands of deaths a year click here) and hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations (click here).  From the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, June 1999:
"It has been estimated conservatively that 16,500 NSAID-related deaths occur among patients with rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis every year in the United States.  This figure is similar to the number of deaths from the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome [AIDS] and considerably greater than the number of deaths from multiple myeloma, asthma, cervical cancer, or Hodgkin's disease.  If deaths from gastrointestinal toxic effects from NSAIDs were tabulated separately in the National Vital Statistics reports, these effects would constitute the 15th most common cause of death in the United States.  Yet these toxic effects remain mainly a "silent epidemic," with many physicians and most patients unaware of the magnitude of the problem.  Furthermore the mortality statistics do not include deaths ascribed to the use of over-the-counter NSAIDS." Click here.

The FDA, with close ties to those pharmaceutical corporations, allows them to advertise NSAIDs freely on TV, including offering free OTC drugs and strongly encouraging the public to share them with friends. 
But when US cherry growers had a peer-reviewed study done to see what was good about cherries and the study showed that they are potentially ten times stronger than NSAIDs for controlling pain, the FDA threatened legal action and to seize property if any cherry grower even put a link on their website to the study.  (The FDA has no legal authority over websites.) 
A search turned up no deaths or hospitalizations from cherries in this country. Click here
4.  The FDA's position on melamine which is killing babies in Asia, and to reassure the public, the FDA declared first that:

"All makers of infant formula that can be legally marketed in the United States have confirmed that they do not use milk products from China in the manufacture of their products."

Then it reversed itself:

"On the Friday after Thanksgiving, the FDA admitted that one brand of formula contained very small amounts of melamine. Another brand contained similarly tiny amounts of cyanuric acid, a related chemical. And a third maker of infant formula told the AP that its own tests detected small amounts of melamine in its product.
"As recently as last October, the FDA said it did not know of any safe level of melamine in baby formula. Last Friday, the agency said that melamine and cyanuric acid are safe in baby formula at levels up to 1 part per million....
"Melamine, also known as cyanuramide, is a synthetic chemical product that forms hard resins when combined with formaldehyde. It is used in a wide range of products such as cooking utensils, plates, industrial coatings, paper and paperboard, and flame retardant ... and ... pesticides."
"These three manufacturers -- Mead Johnson, Nestle, and Abbott -- make more than 90% of the baby formula sold in the U.S." 
"One part per million is a very low level of melamine -- if no other chemical is included," Lin [Mengshi Lin, PhD, assistant professor of food science at the University of Missouri, Columbia] tells WebMD. "But if you have 1 part per million of melamine and 1 part per million of cyanuric acid, that is a big problem. The two chemicals react to form crystals, and that can be a big risk, especially for infants." Click here.

5.  FDA did not admit for decades until forced by a recent lawsuit, that mercury in dental amalgams is toxic. 

Federal Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle told the agency, "This is your classic failure to act."  Charles Brown, a lawyer for Consumers for Dental Choice, one of the plaintiffs said  "Gone, gone, gone are all of FDA's claims that no science exists that amalgam is unsafe."  Still, the FDA's new warning stops short of admitting that dental amalgams are dangerous for the general population.
This is far from an inclusive list but even so there is more than enough to lay to rest any belief that the FDA consistently acts in the public's best interest. 
One ceases to see this as an accidental regulatory failure when the FDA acts even beyond the scope of its legal authority to legally threaten those providing information (free speech) that cherries are immeasurably safer than NSAIDs.  It throws into serious question their commercial partisanship versus any actual commitment to "food safety" or "drug safety," since such illegal use of government power on behalf of corporations and dangerously against the public health.  But such actions are so disturbing they go beyond raising disturbing questions about agency incompetence and failure or even corporate corruption, to raise even more profound issues of criminal conspiracy and negligent manslaughter.
And in doing so, they throw into disturbing relief what the FDA is doing - with Monsanto by its side - in announcing MAMMOTH regulations that will allow multinational corporations such as Monsanto even greater national and global control over seeds in the now clearly spurious name of "food safety."
The USDA has its own close corporate connections to agribusiness and the USDA is committing on-going raids against farmers, agribusiness' only competition.  In these, "food safety" is being used to destroy sustainable agriculture while distracting from the actual problems (click here) and leaving untouched the industrially-sized industrially-caused sources of disease in the corporate feedlots, animal factories and slaughterhouses.  This mirrors exactly how the pharmaceutical corporations and the FDA have promoted and/or given a pass to melamine in infant formula, NSAIDs, dental mercury amalgams, Vioxx, Paxil, HRT, etc. while attacking cherry growers and the entire natural substance industry which are the pharmaceutical industry's competition.  The attacks on healthy food and safe substances by government agencies in collusion with corporations and those agencies bypassing filthy and/or dangerous industries (click here), combine to expose the use of "food safety" and "drug safety" regulations to destroy corporate competition from all natural sources. Click here.

The Patriot Act has allowed the government to remove constitutional rights using terrorism as the justification.  Homeland Security now is working with the FDA on food.  So, the police state use of "food safety" in raids on healthy local farming has now become ramped up to a exceedingly strengthened and more vast new scare - "international  bio-terrorism," which then providing the FDA (qua Monsanto) a full blown military and global control over seeds, which serves Monsanto's every interest.

"FDA is also extensively involved and committed to the Food Emergency Response Network (FERN), a national initiative designed to integrate America's laboratory infrastructure to better detect and respond to bioterror agent threats to the food supply at local, state, and federal levels. The key goals of FERN are:

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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 (more...)
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