"In a world where we get garlic from China, shellfish from Thailand and sugar cane from Mexico, Congress is poised to approve an ambitious food safety bill that would strengthen the nation's top regulator and impose new rules on domestic production and trading partners.
The legislation is aimed at preventing tainted food from entering the supply chain, sickening Americans and forcing massive recalls. It would give the Food and Drug Administration sweeping new powers to demand recalls and require importers to certify the safety of what they're bringing into this country."
Ahh, safety. Sounds good doesn't it; like being wrapped in your mothers arms, protected from all the evils in the world. Well, the government ain't your momma and this bill has nothing to do with keeping you safe.
"The following is a point-by-point overview of what's in the bill and how it would authorize new regulatory checks on food production and distribution:
-- The Department of Health and Human Services secretary would have the authority to inspect the records for food deemed to be susceptible to contamination.
-- The HHS secretary would have the authority to suspend the registration of any food facility deemed to be a health risk.
-- The bill would require food facilities to evaluate potential hazards to their food and keep records on how they are monitoring and correcting these potential problems.
-- The bill would require the HHS secretary to establish new standards for the harvesting of some fruits and vegetables and publish updated guidance.
-- The secretary would be able to collect fees for food recalls and food facility re-inspections.
-- The secretary would be required to draft new regulations for the sanitary transportation of food.
-- The secretary would be required to provide schools and other educational institutions with plans for managing the risk from food allergies and anaphylaxis in schools. Implementation would be voluntary.
-- The secretary would be required to increase inspection at food facilities and report to Congress annually.
-- The secretary would be authorized to shut down distribution at any facility regarding a contaminated or misbranded food if the facility does not do so voluntarily. The secretary would also be able to order a recall -- after a hearing is held.
-- The bill would encourage the secretary to investigate compliance with the act through officials at the state and local level.
-- The bill would require importers of food to verify that the products they are importing meet safety standards and are not contaminated.
-- The bill would block imported food that does not meet certain safety requirements from entering the country.
-- The bill would set up Food and Drug Administration offices in foreign countries to offer assistance with keeping food exported to the United States up to FDA standards."
Does it seem to you, as it does to me, that this bill creates a super powered agency with carte blanche investigative and enforcement powers? You know that regardless of the restrictions built into the bill, of which I'm sure there are precious few, the real power will come from the regulations written by unelected bureaucrats inside Health and Human Services with little or no oversight from the Congress.
These regulators will be all cozied up to Big Ag which will want regulations written and enforced to control competition and enrich their bank accounts.
What, you say that this wouldn't happen? You think that we need some sort of safety controls on our food? You believe that the government only has your best interests at heart. Well, do you, bunky?
Let's look at what happened the last time a Progressive administration took control of the nations food supply.
"Wickard v. Filburn, 317 U.S. 111 (1942), was a U.S. Supreme Court decision that dramatically increased the power of the federal government to regulate economic activity. A farmer, Roscoe Filburn, was growing wheat to feed his chickens. The U.S. government had imposed limits on wheat production based on acreage owned by a farmer, in order to drive up wheat prices during the Great Depression, and Filburn was growing more than the limits permitted. Filburn was ordered to destroy his crops and pay a fine, even though he was producing the excess wheat for his own use and had no intention of selling it.
The Supreme Court, interpreting the United States Constitution's Commerce Clause under Article 1 Section 8 (which permits the United States Congress "To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;") decided that, because Filburn's wheat growing activities reduced the amount of wheat he would buy for chicken feed on the open market, and because wheat was traded nationally, Filburn's production of more wheat than he was allotted was affecting interstate commerce, and so could be regulated by the federal government."
Wickard v. Filburn, which grew out of government interference in the food supply, is the case upon which hinges nearly all of the government intrusion into our lives today. It established that the Commerce Clause has nearly unlimited potential to be used as justification for nearly anything the government wants to do. You've noticed, I'm sure, that almost anytime a politician is asked to justify some nanny state intrusion into our lives they cite the Commerce Clause. This is why.
So what makes you think that it won't be used again, in implementing S.510, as a hammer to control the freedoms of farmers and individuals that want to grow their own food? What makes you think it won't be used to shut down farmers markets so that the competition that Big Ag fears can be destroyed? What makes you think that all the local farmers that sell through co-ops won't be shut down? The government wouldn't do that, you say? Try, just try to buy raw milk from a farmer. You think Big Ag can't get laws passed to protect themselves? Then why do I have to buy my milk from a major producer and not from the guy that squeezed the teat on the cow? Why can't I sell my eggs from my happy, uncaged hens, to a restaurant or a store without all kinds of government red tape and inspections?
Humanity survived for thousands of years without government checking our food and we can make it thousands more. This isn't about safety, it's about control and profit. And our representatives, from both sides of the aisle are more than happy to see it passed because it will swell the coffers of Big Ag which I'm sure will be more than happy to pass the money around in Washington.
Nothing ever changes and nothing ever will until we throw 'em out and start all over again. And while our reps are eating steak and lobster and we're fighting over the last loaf of bread in the store I hope we all remember why things are as they are and who got us there.