Thursday, December 2, 2010

Condoms on Cucumbers

It’s not just an exercise in health class anymore.  It’s for your own good.
The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act  bill (approved text starts on page 120) passed the Senate this week.  This bill, in addition to expanding the powers of the FDA and calling for more tax dollars to be used in effecting its provisions, is proposed to protect us from our dangerous, dangerous produce.  I’m not a farmer, a vegan, a healthy eating militant, or even a CSA member (yet), but even I know this is a very bad thing.
A few weeks ago, I wrote to my Senators to let them know that it really wasn’t their job to protect me from the slight possibility of food poisoning at the very real expense of food production and distribution in our country.  I thanked them for their service, but told them I would far prefer if they spent their time and efforts reeling in the crushing colossus of capricious government spending and protecting, rather than violating, my individual rights.
As one my Senators is John Kerry, I didn’t really expect much, and that’s what I got.  Senator Brown surprised me, however, by responding with the following:
    Recent news stories have brought to light the contamination of our food supply and illustrate the need to take steps to ensure the safety of the food we eat.  This is critically important not only for the people of our state, but also for the nation.

     On March 3, 2009, Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) introduced the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act.  This legislation gives the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) new authority and resources as well as updates standards, all to ensure the safety of our food supply.  Specifically, this legislation would increase the Commissioner of the FDA’s ability to allocate inspection resources for high risk food facilities and enhances food-borne illness surveillance systems.  In addition, S. 510 would require these facilities to develop and put in place plans to address identified hazards and prevent their spread.  The bill would also require food importers to verify the safety of foreign suppliers and imported food.

     On December 18, 2009, S. 510 was reported out of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions and currently awaits further consideration by the full Senate.   Please be assured that as the legislative process moves forward, I will work with my colleagues to ensure that S. 510 meets the needs of Massachusetts and carefully examine any amendments that are proposed.

What I get from his first paragraph is that based on anecdotal evidence, the FDA needs more power to stop the rampant food deaths I’ve not been hearing so much about. Most frightening is that the FDA doesn’t need proof, only “reason to believe” that something is of danger. (Thereby codifying tactics right out of the State Science Institute in Atlas Shrugged.)
23 (a) IN GENERAL. - Section 304(h)(1)(A) (21 U.S.C.24 334(h)(1)(A)) is amended by
(1) striking ''credible evidence or information indicating'' and inserting ''reason to believe'';
From the second paragraph, I understand the Act would “increase the ability to allocate inspection resources,” i.e. more tax dollars going toward more government jobs. I also understand that the “high risk food facilities” to be those not currently in bed with the government.
Meets the needs of Massachusetts?  Who does he think he’s kidding?
This is another naked power grab by a gigantic government bureaucracy, driven by fear, welcomed under the statist premise that we need the government to protect us from ourselves! 
More than that, if passed, this bill will crush some small farms, limit our food choices, and easily make criminals out of produce farmers who can’t meet the regulatory requirements, but continue to try to earn a living by selling their stock.  One thing is for sure: the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act is not about food safety.  (Good article from Natural News.)

The proper function of government is limited to the protection our individual rights: to be free of force and fraud used against us. It is a violation of those rights when our government hands out prophylactics, regardless of whether they're to be used in our ardor or larder.


kelleyn said...

I'm furious about this. I called my senators, but I think it was at the exact moment they were voting. It gets me how they keep moving vote times around, so that we call either when it's too soon so that they forget, or it's too late.

Being a regular farmers' market shopper, I've seen first hand how the implementation of national organic standards has hurt small farms, including the ones that pioneered the concept of organic to begin with. During the run up, market vendors were surprising customers by pointing out that nationalizing the standards would not help them, because the certification fees would price the small farms out of the market. I only half believed them, but then I watched it happen. That was one of my first real life lessons in government intrusion.

I hope this debacle doesn't wipe my beloved farmers' markets off the map the way the CPSIA destroyed the market for vintage and handmade children's goods.

Lynne said...

I hadn't thought about it, but this is quite analogous to the CPSIA handling of handmade and resale toys. It will be the small local guys that are wiped out.

But it's all being done for our own good!

How driving up prices, down choices, and over our right to choose for ourselves is for our own good, is the part I don't quite understand.

In Massachusetts, I'm surrounded by people who love their organic produce, farmers markets, and CSAs. I'm shocked that this obvious clash between big government and those things, which, here at least, seem to have grown in popularity on the coattails of elite environmentalism (without regard to any nutritional benefit), isn't being met with more outrage.