[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
'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>:
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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