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Food Safety Bill HR 2749 Requires Immediate Opposition

Tuesday, June 23, 2009 by: Ethan Huff
Tags: food safety, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund has announced the immediate need to oppose a new and integrated form of the many food safety bills that have been announced in recent months as potential candidate food safety bills. HR 2749, the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009, is an aggregated version of bills such as HR 875 and HR 759 and it was introduced in its discussion draft form on June 8 by Rep. John Dingell (D-MI). It was immediately voted out of the Health Subcommittee on June 10 in an amended form and is headed quickly to the Energy and Commerce Committee on June 17 for mark-up. This is the first and only food safety bill that has received a hearing and made its way out of committee, indicating that this is indeed the bill that has been chosen and the one that needs to be vehemently opposed, and quickly.

Urgent opposition is necessary in order to stop this bill because not only does it fail to effectively reform the industrial food system, it will detrimentally impact small farms and food production facilities as well as local artisans who will be unfairly and disproportionally burdened with a one-size-fits-all regulatory system. Additionally, the bill will bolster the power of the already out-of-control Food and Drug Administration (FDA) while diminishing the existing judicial restraints on the agency's actions through its amending of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA).

Because the bill's provisions concerning food safety and FDA's scope of power concerning enforcement are so vaguely worded in this bill, it creates potential for the unchecked abuse of power by FDA and the incongruous application and enforcement of regulations. While failing to clearly identify and address the primary causes of food safety failures, including industrial farming practices and food supply consolidation, HR 2749 follows in the footsteps of its predecessors by unfairly targeting clean, small-scale, local farming and food operations.

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.

It is obvious from investigation that this bill presents incredibly ominous ramifications for small, local farmers, local food producers, and anyone else who grows or sells food. It favors industrial, factory food operators, who are the perpetrators of food contamination, at the expense of small providers who many have come to rely upon for safe and nutritious fare. The bill also shifts a monumental and unprecedented amount of power and control to the federal government to dominate everything from the produce in the grocery store to the peppers a backyard farmer sells to his neighbor.

The impetus with which this bill is making its way through the legislative gauntlet is alarming and calls for immediate action in stopping it dead in its tracks. FTCLDF is urging everyone to contact their representatives and ask to speak with the staffers who handle food issues. Each person should explain that he or she is aware of the bill and its implications and opposes it. Some FTCLDF talking points include, summarily:

- The bill fails to target the true culprits of food contamination, primarily the industrial food system and food imports while unfairly burdening small and local food producers and providers.
- Food safety would improve if the regulatory burdens on small farms and local food processors were decreased, not increased as this bill does.
- The bill immensely increases FDA power while simultaneously decreasing the agency's accountability for its actions.

The most significant effects are the drastic increases in federal government control over food in general. It is important to emphasize this fact and definitively oppose it.

Congressional representatives can be contacted by utilizing the finder tool at www.congress.com or by sending a message through the FTCLDF petition system at www.ftcldf.org/petitions_new.htm. One can also call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

The status of HR 2749 can be found at www.govtrack.us by searching for "HR 2749".

Now is the time to vehemently oppose this heinous bill. Warn friends and family about this bill and pass on this information immediately. As citizens of this American Republic, it is essential that every citizen practice his or her civic duty in protecting our food freedom by opposing HR 2749.

Sources:

Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund - HR 2749

govtrack.us - HR 2749

Congress.org

About the author

Ethan Huff is a freelance writer and health enthusiast who loves exploring the vast world of natural foods and health, digging deep to get to the truth. He runs an online health publication of his own at http://wholesomeherald.blogspot.com.


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