Monday, November 22, 2010

s. 510

"If accepted [S 510] would preclude the public’s right to grow, own, trade, transport, share, feed and eat each and every food that nature makes. It will become the most offensive authority against the cultivation, trade and consumption of food and agricultural products of one’s choice. It will be unconstitutional and contrary to natural law or, if you like, the will of God." Dr. Shiv Chopra, Canada Health

The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act was passed last week. For those of you dwelling outside the US, the FDA, or  the Food and Drug administration has been getting a lot of flack for the way they operate. The bill, labeled s .510 is over 1000 pages in length and was presented to the public as a solution to the recent outbreaks of food borne illnesses by allowing the FDA more power to inspect farms and food processing facilities and instilling in them the authority to bring forth stricter rules when it comes to growing and producing food. Just looking out for America, right?

Okay. I admit it. Like all of our senators and congressman, I did not read all 1000 pages of text. But the parts I did read scared the bejeezus out me. Here's what's freaking me out:

1. All food production facilities in the United States will be required to register with the U.S. government. No food will be allowed to be grown, distributed or sold outside this bureaucratic framework unless the FDA allows it. And, any food that is distributed or sold outside of U.S. government control will be considered illegal smuggling. How will this affect small time producers like my local Tonopah Rob? Or what about my backyard garden? If I give my neighbors a basket of produce from my garden, will I be fined or shut down?

2. All U.S. food and all U.S. farms will be placed under the Department of Homeland Security in the event of a major "contamination" or an "emergency". Homeland Security? Aren't they supposed to be busy with the war on terror? This stems from recent food recalls and I get why they would want to prevent this but the government is controlling our FOOD SUPPLY. This is bad.

3. The FDA now has tremendous discretion as to how crops are grown and how food is produced in the United States. Basically, small farmers and organic farmers will now be forced to farm exactly how the federal government tells them to. It is feared that the U.S. government would soon declare that many organic farming methods are "unsafe" and would outlaw them. Like Round Up soaked veggies are good for you?

4. There is the very real possibility that at some point the U.S. government could decide that the only "safe" seed for a particular crop is genetically modified seed and would require all farmers to use it. This means that all of us home gardeners who save seeds would be criminals, and would be fined and jailed as such. Monsanto rears it's ugly head again. Seriously. It's the WORST company ever. And yes...they gave lots of bribes contributions to make sure this passed.

The bill is vague and loosely worded and I anticipate a whole lot of uproar from the organic community. But there shouldn't just be uproar from them. We should all be outraged. You should be outraged. Even if you don't consume local or organic foods, this bill affects you. If the government gains as much control of our food supply as this bill potentially allows, prepare for skyrocketing food costs. The DAY this passed (I think it was last Friday) the price of sugar and wheat jumped almost 40% on the commodities market. In a single day! Just think of what could happen if Uncle Sam suddenly disallows backyard gardens and small scale farm operations because our methods of production aren't "safe." We'll be subject to multinational farm conglomerates who engineer chemical laden food which destroy the ground it's grow in. And then we'll have to pay a hyper inflated price for food that really isn't food anymore.  Does that sound good to you?

And what about canning? We can everything. If I'm not doing it in a sterile, goverment approved facility, will they take away my jam pot and my canning jars too?

I would really like to hear your thoughts on this. Do you think s. 510 is dangerous to America? Why? If they told you couldn't grow a backyard garden or forced you to buy seed from a government approved company, what would you do? Am I completely off base and ill researched here? Let me know!


  1. Hi, Steph,

    I think that you are right to be concerned about this, but I feel pretty sure that you won't be shut down for canning. I mean, the FDA only inspects something like 1% of drug manufacturing sites per year... I'm sure they won't get around to your kitchen. Plus, you're not canning your food to sell.

    I think that one thing that we can all do (and should all do) is to choose to buy locally grown and produced foods. Keep shopping at your farmer's market and keep choosing to buy dairy from local cows- by keeping small, local farmers in business, we are helping to support an alternate food source. And, we can support them as they adhere to new guidelines, whether or not we agree with the guidelines ourselves.

    I think that better regulation could help prevent things like the salmonella outbreak that happened this year, or the e.coli that a recent patient had, which left her in renal failure and on dialysis. There is a difference between more and better regulation, though, and I'm not sure that this bill agrees.

    I'm curious to hear how you think we can prevent public health crises like the salmonella outbreak - thoughts?


  2. I live in Canada, but I am also quite concerned about this. It seems to be in place to help "protect" the public, but I highly doubt that will be what comes of it. Big corporations such as Monsanto (insert many swear words and curses here) and factory farms will NEVER allow the government to start controlling them and inspecting them more thoroughly. In fact, those companies have more than likely, as you mentioned in your post, bribed their way into controlling this Act, therefore increasing their ability to target small businesses, organic farming, and anyone who is attempting to keep food "real". This is merely a way for Monsanto to control our food more than they already are but behind a mask of "government policy". If this Act actually lived up to what it says it will do in terms of inspection, then maybe it would be doing something for the better. The main cause of salmonella and E.Coli outbreaks is unhygenic living facilities for animals who are in factory farms. When you feed dead chicken meat to cows and keep them sitting in their own filth until their slaughter, you are bound to have problems. However, because of the money and politics involoved, this Act will only target the average person and give those corporations even more power. Yikes.