Current regulations for food safety in the U.S. are in need of an overhaul as they were written in 1938, and the world has changed a lot since then. However, the current draft applies a one-size-fits-all mentality, and small to mid-sized family farms – organic or traditional – will be history if this language is signed into law. This means that urban farms and small growers who sell their fresh foods at farm stands and farmers markets, or sell wholesale to local grocery stores and chefs are just as doomed. In fact, selling that overload of zucchini, tomatoes and other backyard garden goodness from your front yard will also be breaking the law.

Nevermind the fact that 50% of all foodborne illnesses in the US come from imported food, or that the FDA rarely inspects this produce. Let’s not look at how many of these health threats come from major brand growers like Dole. Nor should we pay any attention to how hard Big Food is fighting against GMO labeling. No, instead eating farm direct and eating local is threatened to protect the interests of those with big lobbying pockets. Real food may soon be a crime to sell, and farmers’ markets a thing of the past.

Food Modernization & Monsanto

Whose idea was it to modernize U.S. food safety regulations? Wife of Monsanto researcher and Connecticut Congresswoman, Rosa DeLauro introduced the act to the House. Former Monsanto Vice President, Michael Taylor is the Assistant FDA Commissioner, and the guy in charge of getting it implemented.

Acting Out Against Real Food

The FDA wants to remove the right to grow and sell food from the local grower disguised as the way to food safety. It’s an act based on fear to gain total control of the food supply.

“Control food, and you control the people.” — Henry Kissinger

Only huge corporate farms will have the funding and manpower available to comply with the regulations, which include all food that are eaten raw being totally free of even a speck of soil, and having been treated in an antiseptic bath prior to being offered for sale in the proper clam-shell container. No family farm, urban farm, or over-sized backyard garden will be able to meet these demands. Furthermore, the regulations do nothing to protect consumers from GMOs or chemicals.

The source of Samonella and Ecoli outbreaks in food is always huge farms, not small ones. The public is under the impression that small growers are exempt, this is simply not true. The current draft of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) makes a move to crush them all. It also ignores real issues with factory meat farms, diseased animal concentrations, and the pathogen laden mountain of manure they produce that taints everything down stream and down wind. (Surprised? Don’t be.)

“In response to deadly outbreaks involving spinach, peanut butter and eggs, Congress acted decisively three years ago to pass the Food Safety Modernization Act,” said Mark A. Kastel, Codirector at The Cornucopia Institute, a farm policy research group based in Wisconsin.  “Better oversight is needed but it looks like regulators and corporate agribusiness lobbyists are simultaneously using the FSMA to crush competition from the organic and local farming movement.”

Cornucopia’s report suggests that small farms are not really exempt.  The FDA proposes that the agency can almost immediately force small farms to comply with the same expensive testing and record-keeping requirements as factory farms. No due process required. The food safety act overrides the Tester/Hagan amendment adopted by Congress that exempts farmers doing less than $500,000 in business from the new rules. Worse still, they are over reacting to the known detriment of small growers. The FDA has even stated that it will quickly put smaller farms out of business, because they cannot comply. Ahh, the power of lobbying deep pockets. Big dogs abhor competition, and go out of their way to squash it.

“The proposed rule is a mess,” said Daniel Cohen, owner of Maccabee Seed Company, a longtime industry observer. “The FDA has much greater expertise on food safety issues from harvest to the consumer, but focused instead on farming issues from planting to harvest. Limited, modest, and more focused steps to improve on-farm food-safety could have produced simple, affordable, effective, and enforceable regulation.”

There is no regulation in place in this draft to stop sick animals going to slaughter destined for meat departments everywhere. Nothing about huge egg producers and Salmonella in eggs. The draft turns more attention to enforcing factory farm record keeping and practices on the most conscientious of food growers – the little guy. Local farms, small organic farms, and urban farms will become illegal… explained away as a threat to your health safety, when it really paves the way for total industrialization of your food supply.

  • The FDA has wildly inflated the number of food-borne illnesses originating in the seed to harvest stage.
  • Imported foods will no longer be inspected, and aren’t under attack.
  • Complying with FSMA rules will cost small farms about $13,000 a year.
  • Free range eggs and chicken looks to be doomed.
  • The list goes on and on…

IT’S NOT LAW YET

You can do something about this, if you act quickly. But, first you need to learn more about the proposed regulations. If a large portion of the public sounds off intelligently the current draft of the Food Safety Modernization Act cannot be passed. That action is approaching soon. The commenting period ends in November 2013. Speak up or remain mum and enjoy your industrial swill.

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Tammy Clayton

Content crafter and Senior Editor at Garden Culture Magazine
Tammy has been immersed in the world of plants and growing since her first job as an assistant weeder at the tender age of 8. Heavily influenced by a former life as a landscape designer and nursery owner, she swears good looking plants follow her home. (Some feel she's got a perennial obsession, others say the problem is tomato plants.)

If you don't find her at the desk - check the gardens. When not writing and weeding, she enjoys a good book, painting junk furniture, and blending the harvest of heirloom tomatoes and chiles into salsas.