Tastemakers: Food Safety Modernazation Bill of 2009 HRB875-S425
RIck Coates 3/30/09
Over the past week I have received several calls and e-mails from concerned organic farmers and others about a new bill in front of Congress (House Resolution 875 and Senate Bill 425) known as the Food Safety Modernization Bill of 2009. The fear is that the legislation could possibly eliminate organic farming, farm markets and small farm operations such as small orchards and vineyards in this country.
With all of the recent food poisonings and recalls on mass-produced items that have contained e-coli and other harmful bacteria, it was only a matter of time before Washington D.C. was going to step in and do something. But is this bill really the answer?
First, here is a brief definition of the proposed bill from its sponsors: To establish the Food Safety Administration within the Department of Health and Human Services to protect the public health by preventing food-borne illness, ensuring the safety of food, improving research on contaminants leading to food-borne illness, and improving security of food from intentional contamination, and for other purposes.
On the surface this sounds good, but if you dig deep into the pages upon pages of this proposed legislation you start to wonder if you will be able to grow food in your own backyard. In typical Washington D.C. fashion, the wording is complex and confusing and leaves room for a lot of interpretation. For example, this new agency would establish extensive and uniform inspections and growing and production requirements for all food production facilities, meaning any farm, ranch, vineyard or confined animal-feeding operation.