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Legislation for Greater Agribusiness Empowerment

By       Message Stephen Lendman     Permalink
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Legislation for Greater Agribusiness Empowerment - by Stephen Lendman

On July 29, 2009, the House passed HR 2749: Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 "To amend the (1938 as amended) Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to improve the safety of food in the global market, and for other purposes."

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An earlier July 2009 article discussed it, accessed through the following link:

click here

On March 3, 2009, S. 510: FDA Food Safety Modernization Act was introduced as the Senate's version of the House bill. On December 18, 2009, it cleared committee and was placed on the Senate's Legislative Calendar for consideration. Thus far not addressed, it likely will be and passed in the wake of the egg salmonella scare though, like its companion bill, it's for agribusiness empowerment, not food safety, used as cover to enhance greater industry consolidation at the expense of small farmers and consumers.

Current laws and regulations are adequate but not enforced, with good reason. Run by industry officials, the USDA is woefully understaffed, under-budgeted, and only performs perfunctory inspections. The FDA operates the same way, fronting for agribusiness, Big Pharma, and related industries, not consumer protection.

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If House and Senate bills pass, it will gain new powers and fewer judicial restraints on its actions. Although some provisions address improving America's food, the bills' vague and deceptive language increases the potential for inappropriate application and enforcement, harming small farmers and consumers for big business, what's vital to avoid but less likely given the egg recall.

Now there's a push for corporate friendly legislation masquerading as pro-consumer, the way Congress always works. So expect the worst, for sure what Obama supports, stiff-arming his constituents across the board in deference to corporate and power interests.

According to the National Independent Consumers and Farmers Association, S. 510:

"will have the unintended destructive consequence of eliminating small farms and consumer access to local food (because it) grants sweeping powers to the (FDA) and US Dairy Association, (imposes harmful new regulations, and lets federal) agents go on to (small) farms, where less than one half of one percent of food-borne illnesses originate, (nearly all of it from factory farms) without having credible evidence that a problem exists, needing only 'reason to believe' in order to quarantine or shut down a farm."

PPJ Gazette writer Marti Oakley calls the Senate bill (and by inference the House one) the "Making America Sick Through Adulteration of Food" act, saying the nation "is only as successful as its farmers and ranchers" able to feed the public at all times. "And by farmers and ranchers I don't mean industrialized corporate farming for massive profits while we defile everything in sight," including safe food because FDA and USDA officials front for business, not consumers, on their own without protection.

The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF) on Food Safety and Congressional Legislation Not Designed to Protect It

FTCLDF (the Fund) represents family farmers' right "to provide processed and unprocessed farm foods directly to consumers," and their right to buy them from family farms. It also protects small farms "from harassment by federal, state, and local government interference with food production and on-farm food processing."

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The Fund opposes the House and Senate bills, saying they threaten "to leave small farmers and local producers unable to afford the cost of complying with legislative requirements." In addition, the FDA will be more greatly empowered to help agribusiness and harm local farming and consumers. Besides, "neither bill would improve food safety" because that's not their purpose.

Their anti-consumer provisions will empower bigness, increase imported food, create new safety concerns, and restrict the ability of Americans to get food choices they want from sources they prefer.

Unmentioned in the House bill, S. 510 references the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) 22 times, especially in Section 108(a)(1), calling for the Health and Human Services (HHS) and Agriculture secretaries to coordinate with HHS to prepare and submit to Congress the "National Agriculture and Food Defense Strategy."

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.

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