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March 11, 2009

The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009: HR 875

A large food safety bill was introduced to the house in early February of this year. It is currently in committee. The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 has been described by some as "monstrous".

One blogger recently wrote:

The bill is monstrous on level after level - the power it would give to Monsanto, the criminalization of seed banking, the prison terms and confiscatory fines for farmers, the 24 hours GPS tracking of their animals, the easements on their property to allow for warrantless government entry, the stripping away of their property rights, the imposition by the filthy, greedy industrial side of anti-farming international “industrial” standards to independent farms - the only part of our food system that still works, the planned elimination of farmers through all these means.

The concern that the blogger mentioned above has, I think has to do with the impact this bill will have on farmers that are not operating on a large corporate scale.

Small organic farms have to be inspected, provide records showing the history of their produce back through to the seed source, and show that they have a plan to keep their facility clean. However, in the case of organic (certified organic that is) farms, there is a premium paid for the produce that results. If the standards are raised for conventional farms and no additional premium is paid, this will likely prove to be a burden on the not-so-huge farms. Also, there is concern as to the vagueness of the language in combination with additional power it gives to regulate any farm.

Below I have provided some of the sections of the bill that caught my eye. While it does give expanded authority to the Administrator, perhaps this is the sort of expanded control that is needed to deal with the sorts of food debacles that we have recently experienced (eg. the PCA peanut contamination).

Section 206 (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

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


(a) Administrative Detention of Food-

(1) EXPANDED AUTHORITY- The Administrator shall have authority under section 304 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 334) to administratively detain and seize any food regulated under this Act that the Administrator has reason to believe is unsafe, is adulterated or misbranded, or otherwise fails to meet the requirements of the food safety law.

Section 405 Civil and Criminal Penalties
(A) IN GENERAL- Any person that commits an act that violates the food safety law (including a regulation promulgated or order issued under the food safety law) may be assessed a civil penalty by the Administrator of not more than $1,000,000 for each such act.

Read the full bill as introduced.

This post written and compiled by Peter Hemberger

March 11, 2009 in food safety | Permalink


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"... perhaps this is the sort of expanded control that is needed to deal with the sorts of food debacles that we have recently experienced (eg. the PCA peanut contamination)."

Although the peanut, spinach, etc. contaminations are caused by BigAgribusiness, the bills threaten small local farmers.
These wide-spread contaminations are NOT problems with small local farmers. Any problem with a local farmer will be settled locally, NOT by the federal government.
These are also redundant, unnecessary bills - We already have so-called food-safety agencies - which obviously are not doing their jobs or are purposely turning their backs on problems they see with BigAg. So creating another agency and piling on more legislation and paperwork, isn't going to make the situation any better.
These bills are BigAg's attempt to do away with the small-farmer competition. And it was a stealth attack - we were not supposed to know about it until after the bills passed.
Any doubts about this? Rosa DeLauro who introduced the House bill, is wife to a Monsanto (Monsatan) bigwig - whose company will profit from passage of this legislation. The Senate bill is backed by (if not written by) Monsanto, Cargill & other BigAg. Nowhere do the sponsors of these two despicable bills post the many, many organizations rabidly opposed to them.
And note, DeLauro tried getting these bills passed last year, but her effort failed miserably. As one blogger on the issue titled his entry, 'Is Organic Farm Killer Rosa DeLauro Becoming The Most Hated Woman in America? (I hope so)'.
Some organizations in her home state of Connecticut are talking RECALL!

Posted by: t quigly | Mar 23, 2009 10:00:38 PM

OK, after reading the bill (PLEASE read it before you draw conclusions) and observing how dramatically small farmers and ranchers could be negatively impacted, no comments I have seen so far have detected one explosive provision: Section 409, Citizen Civil Actions. This will open the door for extremist groups to file dozens of malicious federal law suits against big and small entities, including small organic meat and vegetable producers, which could destroy the food supply system. Do you think just because such suits are looney, they won't have an impact? Do you know how enormous the cost can be for defending a federal lawsuit - - even a suit that has no merit? You can't count that high.

Posted by: Mark | Mar 24, 2009 2:21:18 PM

Thanks, Mark. Interesting comment. I'm posting your comment and section 409 as a separate post.


Posted by: Donna Byrne | Mar 27, 2009 12:58:47 PM

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