Thursday, December 02, 2010

Why I'm opposed to S.510: Food Safety Modernization Bill

I had a lot of questions thrown at me in response to yesterday's post, in which I highlighted my objections to the 'big ag' sponsored FDA Food Safety Modernization Act - which sadly passed the senate vote today.

Some asked why I'd object to a bill that demanded more accountability from food producers, and promised to reduce the risk of food poisoning outbreaks. Here are my reasons:
  • It won't work. The bill doesn't really change current food safety standards that much - it merely forces small production facilities - like individual farms, or Mom & Pop producers who make stuff in their basement - to adopt the same federal standards as immense production giants. Given that 99% of all food poisoning outbreaks are caused by said production giants, it's not really making anybody safer - just making small-scale production of food accountable for big ag's mistakes.
  • It'll put small producers out of business. Rare breeds farms and small producers will now have to follow the safety standards of gigantic agricultural producers. The problem is, those giants can soak up those costs with impunity, while adding hundreds of hours worth of bureaucracy and compliance to small producers will put them out of business. Given that small producers aren't the ones causing the food outbreak problems, I don't see why they have to suffer the consequences.
  • It'll make food more expensive. The bill gives the Food and Drug Administration leeway to hire hundreds of new inspectors and invest in massive expansion projects. The food industry will levy that cost - and pass it directly onto you and I - the consumer. Given that food production in America is cost-prohibitive as it is, it'll price anything aside from factory-farming out of existence.
  • It will destroy choice and innovation. One of the most significant aspects of the bill is the power it gives the FDA to regulate what is and isn't acceptable to grow. So that's a big 'yes' to genetically modified crops, but a 'no' to entirely natural, organic substances like Red Rice Yeast and Stevia. As the FDA has proven time and time again, they're more than willing to abuse their power if pharmaceutical industry lobbyists demand it - banning natural supplements that offer a healthier, cheaper alternative to patented pharmaceutical products.
I'm not a tea party supporter, or a militant libertarian - but I do support independence and freedom of choice. This bill is an affront to those ideals, because it encourages the corporate conglomeration of America's food production and ultimately denies us all the freedom to decide what and how we feed ourselves and our families.
“If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.”
Thomas Jefferson

1 comment:

Susanne said...

great post and quote from TJ...thanks!