Food Safety: Congress Loses Its Way
By Jim Turner, Chairman, Citizens For Health
This Wednesday, November 18th, the U.S. Senate plans to consider a massive “food safety” bill entitled “The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act”.
This bill (S. 510) will strengthen the forces that for the past fifty years have led to unsafe, nutritionally compromised food and will undermine growing efforts working to thwart those forces. (To read the bill and view co-sponsors, go to www.thomas.loc.gov and enter “Food Safety Modernization Act” in the search field).
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said, “Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficial“. The Senate’s food safety initiative, though intended to be beneficial, follows the House version by leading food down the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “modernization” path that Congress designed for drugs. (This House version, H.R. 2749, has the same drawbacks and originally failed; later in the same week it was passed under different rules).
The FDA’s drug modernization approach places high-cost drugs at the heart of a dangerously costly health system, contributes to thousands of drug-related deaths, and leads to the approval of many unsafe drugs that end up being recalled. It also makes FDA drug regulation perilously dependent on the financial support the agency receives from drug company fees.
S. 510 – in keeping with this flawed drug modernization path – gives powerful incentives to large, concentrated food manufacturers (the sources of the most significant threats to our food so far) while undercutting producers that are smaller, safer, and often local.
Today Citizens for Health launches its food safety campaign and our first goal is to amend or defeat S 510. If the bill passes without any meaningful, substantive changes, we will seek a Presidential Veto. If the bill that is finally signed fails to address our concerns sufficiently we will work to establish and implement regulations to minimize the negative impact on food safety that will surely result, and we will redouble our efforts to maximize the food choices and food and health information available to all.
And, remember: we are not opposing food safety. We are working to advance it by opposing misguided attempts to build a flawed, drug-like bureaucratic structure on top of a crumbling food safety foundation that desperately needs to be shored up and repaired.
We need your help to win – click here and send your letter to your Senators now!
During this process we will regularly address key food safety issues and the food safety decisions we make – as a nation and as individuals – that shape our lives. It is essential that we all have the opportunity to understand how these issues and decisions affect our ability to trust our food supply. In a very real sense we, as a nation, are what we eat.
We welcome a robust discourse – here at Citizens.org, in your community, and in policy. And, ultimately, we all look forward to safer, healthier, more trustworthy food.
On a final note, consider this remark by Mark Twain: “No man’s life, liberty or property are safe while the legislature is in session.” Now is the time to act to minimize the damage that will result from passage of S. 510.
I thank you for staying involved in this discourse and look forward to hearing from you. Take a moment to share your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org, and don’t forget to click here now to send a letter to your Senators urging them to oppose or overhaul S. 510.
James S. Turner, Esq.
Citizens for Health