[permaculture] [Fwd: [growingsmallfarms] A false choice: Food Safety or Sustainability]

Lawrence F. London, Jr. lflj at intrex.net
Tue Jul 14 00:26:13 EDT 2009

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: 	[growingsmallfarms] A false choice: Food Safety or Sustainability
Date: 	Mon, 13 Jul 2009 17:29:23 +0000
From: 	Sammy Slade <sammy_slade at hotmail.com>

The pressures by big ag on small ag are persistent and continually
mutating in various hard to keep up with legislative versions in
Washington which ultimately seek a one size fits all law that can
guarantee  (a legislative equivalent of the current propaganda onslot
campaign that seeks co-optation and confusion of the term 'local' check
out this week's Independent article "The Dirty Tricks behind
<http://www.indyweek.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A397702>') that
'local' not succeed as the sane alternative to the 'corporate'.

An excerpt from an article today Crops, Ponds, Destroyed in Quest for
Food Safety <http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/07/13>:

           Going national

     In the verdant farmland surrounding Monterey Bay, a national marine
     sanctuary and one of the world's biological jewels, scorched-earth
     strategies are being imposed on hundreds of thousands of acres in
     the quest for an antiseptic field of greens. And the scheme is about
     to go national.

     Galvanized by the spinach disaster, large growers instituted a
     quasi-governmental program of new protocols for growing greens
     safely, called the "leafy greens marketing agreement." A proposal
     was submitted last month in Washington to take these rules nationwide.
     A food safety bill sponsored by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles,
     passed this month in the House Energy and Commerce Committee. It
     would give new powers to the Food and Drug Administration to
     regulate all farms and produce in an attempt to fix the problem. The
     bill would require consideration of farm diversity and environmental
     rules, but would leave much to the FDA.

... and who did Obama Put in to head the FDA? ... Monsanto's man Taylor
returns to FDA in food-czar role
<http://www.grist.org/article/2009-07-08-monsanto-FDA-taylor/> ... in
his article Tom Philpott writes:

     ... an “excellent report”
     [PDF] co-written by Taylor, released this year.
     That paper must be read carefully: Given Taylor’s new status,
     it—along with new guidelines
     released by the White House Food Safety Working on Tuesday—will
     likely serve as a kind of blueprint for the Obama FDA food oversight.
     Two things jump out immediately from Taylor’s paper. First, it
     amounts to a forceful push to shift much more of the burden for
     funding food-safety operations to the state and local level. Its
     very title is “An Agenda for Strengthening State and Local Roles in
     the Nation’s Food Safety System.” The paper promotes a “Joint
     Funding Responsibility” between federal and local/state agencies.
     Why is this a problem? For one, state and local budgets are parched
     dry, drained by the most severe economic downturn since the
     Depression. Is, say, California now going to fund a robust
     food-safety platform—with IOUs, perhaps?
     Moreover, we’ve seen the sort of federal-state partnership Taylor
     promotes in action—and there have been spectacular failures.
     Remember the great peanut-butter calamity
     <http://www.grist.org/article/Thats-just-nuts/> of 2008-‘09, the one
     that killed at least seven people and sickened hundreds? In that
     case, the FDA had farmed out inspections of the ofending factory to
     Georgia authorities, who dutifully documented atrocious sanitary
     lapses even as tainted product got distributed nationwide.
     The other immediate problem with Taylor’s blueprint relates to
     scale. A sane food-safety policy would do two things:  1) rein in
     the gigantic companies that routinely endanger millions with a
     single lapse at a single plant—say, a gigantic beef company that can
     send out 420,000 pounds of E. coli-tainted beef from a day’s
     <http://www.grist.org/article/2009-06-30-food-safety-meat>; and 2)
     do so in a way that doesn’t harm the thousands of small-scale,
     community-oriented operations rising up in new alternative food systems.
     Again and again, we’ve seen regulations designed to rein in big
     players actually consolidate their market power by wiping out small
     players. As a recent Food & Water Watch report
     showed, regulations that make sense for industrial slaughterhouses
     can spell the end for community- and regional-scale ones. The Taylor
     report only addresses this critical point once in its 80 pages: “Due
     regard should be given to making the traceback requirement feasible
     for small businesses.” Clearly, the small-scale producer issue isn’t
     a priority for Monsanto’s man at FDA.

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