The Food Safety Modernization Act (HR875 and S 425) was introduced to Congress as a way to "protect the public health by preventing food-borne illness." If passed, the bill would establish the Food Safety Administration, which would maintain food safety standards and certify imported foods with "enforcement tools such as mandatory recalls and civil penalties." Despite its stated purpose, the FSMA could actually endanger the food supply and violate consumers' rights by excluding local organic farmers who can't afford the exorbitant cost to participate.
According to nourishedkitchen.com, "HR 875 mandates that anyone who produces food of any kind . . . and transports that food for sale be subject to warrantless government inspection of their farms and food production records." This creates opportunities for federal agents to abuse power if they get to decide what animals are fed and how fields are managed. More importantly, the "draconian restrictions . . . could mean the end of organic, biodynamic, and sustainable agricultural practices" if they are deemed "unsafe." It also creates a "pay to play" farming system: the cost to register a farm with the Food Safety Administration is $1,000,000 and the cost to deny a federal agent access to a farm is $1,000,000.
Only agribusiness giants, often the worst violators of food safety standards, could afford to operate in this system, so it should come as no surprise that the main backer and lobbyist of the bill is Monsanto. In fact, the congresswoman who introduced the bill, Rosa Delauro, is married to one of Monsanto's politcal consultants, Stanley Greenberg. Although their ties may be coincidental, it is no coincidence that the Food Safety Modernization Act would criminalize small-scale local organic farmers and hurt farmers' markets and Co-ops nationwide. Protect your access to safe organic foods by contacting your local representatives and continuing to grow your own food.
image: "Christina's (PostModern) World" by Motherpie on Flickr courrtesy of Creative Commons licensing.