Originally published July 11 2008
FDA Failing the American People Over Food Safety, Regulation
by David Gutierrez, staff writer
(NaturalNews) The FDA lacks sufficient funds to properly monitor emerging technologies and threats, and as such is unable to properly regulate new technologies, drugs and foods, according to a report by the agency's Subcommittee on Science and Technology.
The FDA's resources are going mostly into responding to crises, the report said, leaving the FDA unable to be proactive about emerging threats.
"Crisis management in the FDA's two food safety centers ... has drawn attention and resources away from FDA's ability to develop the science base and infrastructure needed to efficiently support innovation in the food industry, provide effective routine surveillance, and conduct emergency outbreak investigation activities to protect food," the report said.
The report cites nanotechnology as an example of an area where the FDA has failed to monitor rapidly emerging science. Although nanotechnology is fundamentally different from prior technologies, the FDA has failed to regulate it any differently.
The subcommittee recommended the formation of a department dedicated to liaising with groups involved in new technologies.
The FDA has also fallen short in its responsibility to inspect the U.S. food supply, the report says. Funding for food inspection has dropped over the past 35 years, leading to a 78 percent reduction in the frequency of inspections. Currently, food manufacturers are inspected only once every 10 years, and retail establishments and farms are never inspected. At the same time, the report notes, the food industry has rapidly expanded, and so have food imports.
Even in the area of crisis management, the report says, the FDA has still fallen short, particularly with new and emerging threats.
For example, when bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or "mad cow disease," first appeared in Europe and the FDA imposed new regulations on animal feed, the government denied the agency funding to implement those new rules. According to the report, this allowed BSE to infect U.S. cattle.
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