There's so much hyperbole surrounding this thing that to be honest I don't know what's fact, what's fear or what's just plain wrong.
But, just based on how things usually go I'm going to make a stab at describing this thing. We have a situation where there have been, in comparison to the size of the food industry as a whole, just a handful of cases of tainted food over the last few years. Now the hand wringing, namby-pamby safety Nazis on the left side of the spectrum see this as a threat to all that is good and as a clear indication that they need to spring into action to save the children or the whales or something.
Now their boys, and girls, in the Congress see an opportunity. They can play to their base while at the same time writing a little something for the guys that send them the money they need to stay in office so they can keep spending the money they steal from us. So they call up their buddies in big agriculture and ask them if they couldn't give them some ideas on how to improve safety and protect all the little children. Big Ag, always looking for ways to help their fellow man, suggest that maybe some new regulations would be in order.
The problem here, and Big Ag is just beside itself at the absolute ugliness of it, is that to make food safe for the children the new regulations will have to be of such an onerous nature that no food producer without the financial resources of Big Ag will be able to comply. And this means that all those little farmers and processors, the ones that compete with Big Ag and are a constant thorn in its side, well darn it, they'll probably go out of business. And that's really, really a shame.
But at least the children will have safe food to eat.
In the end, regardless of the hysteria about individual rights and the backyard gardener, this is directed towards destroying the competition through regulation and protecting Monsanto's hybrid seed business. They don't care about you or me planting a couple tomatoes. They've got bigger fish to fry.
This isn't to say that this doesn't put the framework in place for legal action against individuals in the future because it does and if that framework exists it will be used against us, eventually. For that reason alone it should scare the hell out of us.
Fortunately, it sounds like it won't make it back through the house before the Republicans take over. Hopefully that'll kill it.
"Senate Bill 510, the Food Safety Modernization Act, has been called "the most dangerous bill in the history of the United States of America." It would grant the U.S. government new authority over the public's right to grow, trade and transport any foods. This would give Big brother the power to regulate the tomato plants in your backyard. It would grant them the power to arrest and imprison people selling cucumbers at farmer's markets. It would criminalize the transporting of organic produce if you don't comply with the authoritarian rules of the federal government.
"It will become the most offensive authority against the cultivation, trade and consumption of food and agricultural products of one's choice. It will be unconstitutional and contrary to natural law or, if you like, the will of God." - Dr. Shiv Chopra, Canada Health whistleblower (http://shivchopra.com/?page_id=2)"
"Supporters of the local food movement might get what they want in a debate going on in the United States Senate.
Local food advocates are worried that attempts to improve food safety in the U.S. will put small farmers out of business. But a deal has been reached to exempt small farms that sell food locally from the new rules.
Senator John Tester from Montana introduced the amendment. He says government should encourage more people to start up farm businesses.
"If we can get producers to connect up with consumers eyeball to eyeball, that's a positive thing," Tester says. "I don't want to diminish their ability to do this.
"My amendment really protects the ability for farmer markets to flourish and provide food for people locally without shipping it half way around the world and back again."
The legislation is a response to numerous deaths and illnesses in the U.S. caused by contaminated food.
The Senate could vote on the bill tonight."
You can read the actual bill here.
You can read the Tester-Hagan Amendment here and the amendment to the amendment here.
"Democrats and Republicans who worked together on food safety legislation have signed off on a compromise amendment protecting small farmers, making it more likely the bill could pass as early as this week.
The amendment, sponsored by Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), could be rolled into the food safety bill or could be voted up or down separately. Under the amendment, small producers - those selling most of their food directly to consumers, local restaurants and retailers within a 275-mile radius and earning $500,000 or less in annual sales - will continue to be regulated at the state and local level.
"This amendment is a critical change to the food safety legislation and will protect our small producers from excessive government red tape," Hagan said in a statement. "Senator Tester and I worked with our colleagues to ensure this amendment’s inclusion in the final food safety bill, and this protection will benefit small farmers across North Carolina."Changes to the amendment give the Food and Drug Administration the authority to withdraw an exemption from a farm or facility that has been associated with a foodborne illness outbreak. In addition, the distance from a facility or farm that is eligible to be a "qualified end-user" has been reduced from 400 miles to 275 miles, and language clarifying that farmers' market sales are "direct-to-consumer" for FDA’s purposes has been revised."