Foodcare Reform

I’ve made the argument that it makes as much sense for the government to take over the food supply as it does Healthcare. Alas, we all knew that they’d eventually get to that too— and it looks like they are beginning to get to it with HR 2749, the ‘Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009’.

Our friends (and I use the word loosely) Waxman and Dingle have come up with legislation that typifies the sort of overreach and ominous tyranny indicative of all the legislation they are coming up with in congress now that they are the only party in power.

The one thing we know about the era of Obama is that every aspect of our lives will ultimately be under the tight control of the government whether we want it or not-- and it's all for our own good!

But don't take my word for it. Natural News declares that this bill requires immediate opposition, a blogger at foodfreedom describes it as, "Totalitarian Control of the Food Supply," a DailyKos diary calls it fascist (truly it doesn't take much to be called fascist at DailyKos but I thought I'd throw it in there), and Stop socialism now says, "Fed Takeover Of All Food Production Almost Done!"

Some of the disconcerting and dire provisions within the bill include:

- HR 2749 will require the mandatory imposition of annual registration fees in the amount of $500 upon any "facility" that holds, processes, or manufactures food. Even though "farms" are exempt, the bill's definition of "farm" is so scarcely defined that folks selling cheeses, breads, and other products from their farms or at the farmers market would be required to pay this fee, potentially driving many small producers and start-ups out of business, especially during tough times.

- HR 2749 will give FDA the power to directly regulate the methods by which crops are raised and harvested, essentially handing complete and total control of every farming operation to the federal government.

- HR 2749 will give FDA the power to halt the movement of all food in a particular geographic area in the event of a food contamination scare or outbreak. The provision directly includes "prohibiting or restricting the movement of food or of any vehicle being used or that has been used to transport or hold such food within the geographic area", effectively shutting down any and all local food sources, farmers markets, or cooperatives within that area, even if their products have no connection to the actual contamination source.

- HR 2749 will give limitless power to FDA to conduct random searches of the business records of small farmers and local food providers without a warrant or even the slightest hint of evidence that there has been any sort of violation. It essentially allows clear passage by the federal government into the private records of its choice with no requirement of probable cause or legitimate reason for doing so.

- HR 2749 will appoint the Secretary of Health and Human Services as the taskmaster in establishing a food tracing system that will require an extensive, convoluted system of tracking each item and ingredient from origin to distribution. Because the bill fails to outline the logistical procedures for how this complex task will be accomplished and how it will be paid for, it once again hands an unprecedented amount of power over to the federal government to control and tax as it sees fit in order to accomplish whatever arbitrary requirements it wishes to inflict upon our farmers and food producers.

- HR 2749 imposes grievous criminal and civil penalties, including fines of up to $100,000 for each violation, per individual, and up to 10 years in prison.

Who's worried about the patriot act now? We are rapidly approaching the point where literally nothing will be exempt from the power of the government to directly control, dictate, punish, and intervene without warrant or respect to constitutional rights. It will be an administrative matter.

Posted by Eric Simonson at August 5, 2009 1:11 AM
Comment #285619


Are you serious? If $500 drives you out of the business of providing healthy food, should you really be in the business of selling food?

Oops! Sorry, I forgot. You never post anything reasonable.

I’m curious, do you guys ever read a newspaper out there in Cawlifornya? Remember the people that died from contaminated foods recently? Think that this legislation might be pointed at this issue? Or is it infringing on the rights of us eaters rights to freely choose random deadly poisons in our food?

Posted by: gergle at August 5, 2009 4:05 AM
Comment #285621

The Government has had authority over the quality of our food for over a century. Remember the Pure Food and Drug Act?

By the way, the Kos Diarist you link to posted among his comments an ongoing series of excerpts from a lecture of a Professor preaching about the dangers of the New World Order. What are your opinions about such conspiracy theories?

Your sources are lacking in that certain quality of rationality. Do you buy that “All GM crops are bad, even if that badness hasn’t been scientifically established?” line?

Dig up and discuss the actual law, rather than take the word of folks who believe that the food regulations are all part of a New World Order Plot.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 5, 2009 8:27 AM
Comment #285625


There isn’t really much of a conspiracy theory going on here, though many theorists do get involved and the the issue to different tangents.

Monsanto (not the only ones but the leaders of the industry) wants to sell seeds. They have made seeds that cannot be used to create new seeds. Normally, a farmer will set aside part of his crops to use for creating seeds for next year’s crops, but that doesn’t bring in the money for companies like Monsanto so they ask for laws to be put into place to make this practice ‘illegal’. There is a big fight about this in Brazil.

Now, many former Monsanto executives are in charge of our FDA and are putting in these very laws they have been lobbying for for years. This is the intent of many aspects of HR 2749.

Now, the fact that a stalk of corn cannot generate a seed may cause some to worry that there might be an issue with the ears on that stalk…

But, the Democrats are in charge now, so no need to worry about all of that, they are good people and will protect us. And of course, they are not susceptable to ‘big business’.

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 5, 2009 9:16 AM
Comment #285633

I’m not all that fond of Monsanto or its practices, to be sure, but that’s another story entirely.

You’re wrong on the stalk of corn being unable to generate seeds. You wouldn’t have corn in that case, because what we call corn are the seeds of the Maize Plant. How could you sell that to farmers? No, the seeds just don’t germinate.

I don’t trust Eric’s sources. They probably misread the entire law.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 5, 2009 12:14 PM
Comment #285637

I don’t know, Stephen, I’ll definately look into it, but a lot of former Monsanto execs are prominent in this administration, which has me (and a lot of other people) concerned…

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 5, 2009 12:33 PM
Comment #285638

Germinate, yes that is the word I was looking for and missed latching on to when I hurridly typed out that response, thanks.

I used to make my ‘walking around’ money in High School detassling corn. I was actually pretty good at it. :)

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 5, 2009 12:35 PM
Comment #285643


I just had a vision of you in “Children of the Corn”

Just kidding!!! :)

I wasn’t aware that Obama was hiring ex Monsanto people…thanks for the info. That could be worrisome.

Posted by: gergle at August 5, 2009 1:40 PM
Comment #285646

I agree, it is worrisome. Especially with the appointment of the Food Czar, a former Monsanto VP…

In a Tuesday afternoon press release, the FDA announced that Michael Taylor, a former Monsanto executive, had joined the agency as “senior advisor to the commissioner.” If the title is vague, the portfolio (pasted from the press release) is substantial—a kind of food czar of the Food and Drug Administration:

• Assess current food program challenges and opportunities
• Identify capacity needs and regulatory priorities
• Develop plans for allocating fiscal year 2010 resources
• Develop the FDA’s budget request for fiscal year 2011
• Plan implementation of new food safety legislation

It’s this office that is helping form the legislation discussed in the original article. There is a lot going on here that the press just isn’t looking into much.

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 5, 2009 1:51 PM
Comment #285649

As much as I might share concerns about Monsanto’s involvement with certain administration figures, I’ve got one question: what are the legal foundations of the claim he makes?

It’s easy for some guy with more agenda than legal training to go in and make claims like these, yet ultimately be full of it on the substance of the law.

They could also be complaining about things that already exist, but are being revised in the bill.

A list of claims is not a list of facts, and we ought to know what precise provisions these claims address, and get the opinion of folks who know what they really mean.

Here’s a sampling of some problems with the charges right here.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 5, 2009 2:53 PM
Comment #285666


Our foods are being imported in a dramatically rising fashion. And outbreaks of salmonella and other diseases have sprung from some of our own American companies.

Our nation’s food supply requires more testing and oversight of that testing. I know Republicans would like to see the AG industry police themselves the way Wall St. did over the last decade, but, proved to be a horrible way to proceed. I also know Republicans don’t like paying for their government since they doubled the national debt in 8 years, but, we can’t afford government that doesn’t pay for its policies anymore.

So, if we are to insure safer foods for the public, the government oversight and testing is required to insure its efficacy. And that will cost money, and if we are ratchet back deficits and debt anytime in our future, we have to start paying for the services the public requires on a pay as you go basis.

Democrats have not lived up to their pay as you go promises. But, at least on this bill, it sounds like they are moving in that direction. I want safer foods and a foreseeable end to deficit spending. This bill appears to provide for both. In all, it would appear clear Republicans would of course have a sour attitude toward the potential of Democrats actually acting responsibly for a change.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 5, 2009 5:41 PM
Comment #285683


I can see why you might distrust these sources, they are almost all from the left.

And it may seem impossible to you, but I agree with left-wing wackos from time to time.

Seriously, the Monsanto connection is troubling to me as well. To me there is no moral difference between Monsanto writing legislation in order to game the system for their benefit and many other government agendas which game the system for the benefit of government and various constituencies.

I think that it is consistent to assume that the law should provide for maximum freedom and be applied with as light a touch as possible.

There is legitimate reason to regulate the food supply. But it appears that this bill is sloppy and heavy handed.

There is legitimate regulation and then there is using regulation as a pretext to exert far more control than necessary.

Posted by: eric at August 5, 2009 11:03 PM
Comment #285685

Thanks for the info. And why I realize that many concerns over Americas’ Food Supply are real, I wonder how many citizens would scream if none of these regulations existed. Because did you know that almost all commercial seeds and stock are governed due to the fact they have been alterd by Man and Nature?

Yes, a quick look at history will show that the Human Race has suffered greatly because they kept seeds from the last crop. And why I know that not every seed is effected every year, yield and other varibles does effect the Food Supply.

So why one could make the argument that farmers should only plant FDA approved seeds especially given the results since the 1970’s. I do believe that given the Organic Movement and Demand nowadays will force Congress to rewrite any bill that sets out to make genaric altered seeds mandated.

For why I’m not sure of the year, but if I remember right there has been many years that without natural seeds America would have no crops. Corn and Wheat comes to mind; however, I think it was soybeans that created such a problem that it changed the whole industry.

Besides; who knows if they are dumb enough to over regulate the business how many Americans will start growing their own food supply at home. For is anyone crazy enough to pay $5.00 for an ear of corn?

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at August 6, 2009 1:38 AM
Comment #285708


Is there ever any bill that isn’t sloppy and heavy handed?

Posted by: gergle at August 6, 2009 2:20 PM
Comment #285958

After the erosion in oversight in food production and handling that we have seen over the last 10 years or more, I’m happy to see it become a priority again. Federal inspectors used to be in all meat packing plants, for example. But not any more. So we are seeing more illness from contamination as a result.
So increasing consumer protection is not a bad thing. I think it’s a bit much to predict complete, heavy-handed micromanagement of food production. It’s an extreme interpretation of the bill. It demonizes a bill which is meant to curtail largescale infections of consumers.
I think this is yet another example of the mentality from the right that, if the democrats want it, it must be bad and it will “destroy the world” in some dubious way. Like health care reform will result in forced euthanasia by the govt.
I wish people could discuss these matters without stretching the truth so much.

Posted by: Seatech1 at August 9, 2009 7:03 PM
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