Worries Over the Food Safety Modernization Act
The proposed Food Safety Modernization Act (H.R. 875) has been creating a lot of internet hysteria. Bloggers from big name publications like the Huffington Post to mom and pop farming sites have been abuzz over forwarded emails that claim the Food Safety Modernization Act will spell the end of backyard gardening, organic farming, and local farmer’s markets.
Since the Food Safety Modernization Act was introduced to congress in March 2009, proponents of organic and local farming have misconstrued its true intent. Originally introduced by House Representative Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, the act is intended to help the FDA better regulate the way American food is produced and keep it safe to prevent contamination.
Despite its true intent, many have assumed—incorrectly—that the bill is another attempt by big government to over-regulate farming by imposing strict regulations that will be too difficult and costly for small farms and farmer’s markets to follow.
So where did the misinformation come from? It isn’t quite clear who started the rumors. But many have pointed to Representative DeLauro’s supposed interest in agribusiness giant Monsanto as a reason for sponsoring a bill that would put small growers out of business. While it’s true that DeLauro’s husband once had ties to Monsanto, he doesn’t any more. And neither Monsanto nor any other large agribusiness company had anything to do with drafting the Food Safety Modernization Act.
Food Safety Modernization Act Facts and Myths
So what exactly would the Food Safety Modernization Act do? It would:
- Separate the FDA into two agencies: one that overlooks and regulates food safety and one that overlooks drugs and medical devices
- Increase the frequency of inspection at food processing plants based on how high the risk of food contamination is
- Extend food safety agency authority to food production on farms, requiring farms to draw up food safety plans and identify production areas that are at-risk for contamination
- Require imported food to meet the same standards as U.S.-produced food
If the Food Safety Modernization Act were to pass Congress, it would actually help farmer’s markets’ bottom lines. If imported food were to be held to the same standards as locally grown food, then unsafe imports wouldn’t be allowed to compete with locally grown produce.
Here’s what the Food Safety Modernization Act would not do:
- The Act would not cover animal products regulated by the USDA. These include beef, pork, fish, and lamb.
- It would not regulate backyard gardens.
- It would not make organic farming illegal.
- It would not apply to food that does not enter interstate commerce.
- It would not impose regulations on farmer’s markets.
The hysteria over the Food Safety Modernization has been largely unwarranted. The proposed bill is meant to protect consumers, not limit their food sources.