As a Justmeans staff writer for the Sustainable Foods editorial department, I explore the disparity between consumerism and independence through the topic of sustainability. As a self-described 'urban homesteader' I look to find the balance between a sustainable lifestyle and use of corporate convenience. I don't necessarily want to live without electricity, but I want to be comfortable if eve...
Food Safety: Senate Bill S510 Update
In our industrial food system, food safety is and should be the priority concern for every person, not just those of us in the United States, but every single person alive. Why? Because food and water are our single most important common denominators. It surpasses all other social issues by a landslide. Everybody has to eat.
Senate Bill S510 has been designed to regulate some of the industrial food measures to help prevent food borne illnesses, which according to the Center for Disease control, "cause approximately 75 million illnesses each year including approximately 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths." Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) says, "These numbers are staggering, intolerable and a call to action."
With all the recent outbreaks in the American Food System, it's obvious that we need to assign and enforce a standard level of accountability to the Big Agriculture industry. But the Food Safety and Modernization Act is broad; while it may help enforce corporate farms to a better level of safety, it could also effectively give them more power over the food system.
GovTrack.com has a couple videos that explain the severity of the bill for the small farmer and consumer. In the first video, Liz Reitzig, the Secretary of the National Independent Consumers and Farmers Association explains why the Food Modernization Act creates a loophole for Big Agriculture Companies to control the market more efficiently:
Well I think the intent of the legislation is to give much broader authority to the FDA, and then when you look at the language of the bill, when it gives the authority to the FDA to act on "reason to believe", that's giving a lot of power, a lot of control, to one person.
She continues giving an example using raw milk. If the FDA deems that raw milk is unsafe, they can literally put a milk farmer out of business, effectively implementing a regime that lends itself to fascism: only government registered milk producers would be able to sell milk at any venue.
Some small farms and restaurants have been excluded from the Act for protection of diversity and consumer choice. But there's still more work to be done. Here is a 90-second video summary of the bill by Main Street Insider.
Everybody would like to see a more accountable industrial food system, but it's possible that we're approaching it in the wrong direction. Instead of "handing the FDA a blank check" to regulate by their sole opinion what is safe and unsafe to eat, why not enforce better soil and water safety in the food system? If we can get Big Ag to care for their soil, feed, water and product in terms of people consuming it (rather than simply numbers consuming), then maybe we can come to a safer, more healthy manner of food production for everybody.