HR 875 the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009

As many of you out there are aware by now, there is a bill that has been introduced to Congress called HR 875 Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 . I have seen a number of twitters and blog posts about it, as well as articles and discussions. I was all set to write a very different post about this issue until I came across this post at in my search:

I think this excerpt is essential for background in this discussion:

"(1) the bill has nothing to do with Monsanto, (2) Rep. DeLauro’s (the introducer of the bill) husband is a pollster for a company that once had Monsanto as a customer a decade ago, but he in no way ‘works’ for Monsanto, (3) HR 875 as it currently stands is very unlikely to even pass, and (4) the group behind disseminating this trumped-up propaganda is NICFA,"

The NICFA is a group whose mission statement maintains their goal is to "promote and preserve unregulated direct farmer-to-consumer trade’ and ‘oppose any government funded or managed National Animal Identification System." But, when I went to their site, the only statement I could find remotely referencing HR 875, was this:

"A number of “food safety” bills recently introduced in Congress would give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) direct control over every farm and ranch in the country and the authority to micromanage every aspect of farm production. Most of these bills have NAIS written into them. "

Perhaps they are referring to another food safety bill? I did not see any "trumped up propaganda about HR 875, unless it has been removed from their site, or referring to this appearance on Fox News.

What I think is behind the " propaganda" perhaps, is fear. We have just come off of 8 years of perhaps the most secretive govt. this country has ever seen, an administration that gave us good reason to not trust (ie "Clear Skies", "No Child Left Behind" etc. ) and I think we are all a little shell shocked. Too willing to believe that there must be some evil plot behind any new bill or law to take away our freedom. I think we all need to take a step back and do a little research before passing on info that sounds "too bad to be true". I have to admit, I am guilty of this as well, and I am trying to take my own advice.

Another heartening section from the post at "Crooks and Liars" that should quell much of the fears out there:

"I have since been in contact with Rep. DeLauro’s office, and they have confirmed that Rep. DeLauro has been meeting with organic farmers to draw up a proposed list of amendments to HR 875 based on those discussions. While these amendments are not yet public knowledge, and would be an informal document to clarify the bill, she and her staff would be happy to get the word out that the Congresswoman is indeed working very hard on improving both the bill and her office’s relationship with organic and small farmers."

While this is indeed good news, I would expect that these would be actual amendments to the bill and not just an "informal document" in the end. My work as a union steward and on a contract negotiating committee has taught me that clear language is always needed no matter how nitpicky it seems, and it is best not to leave things up to interpretation later on, if possible.

There are things now in the bill that I think are cause for real concern as far as open interpretation goes. For instance, the passage below from the "definitions" section of the bill seems to have the most relevance to the small producer as far as I have been able to discern. It seems to me to be too broad a stroke and needs further definition so as not to include perhaps even the home garden (or secret farm!) or chicken keeper, etc into the scope of the bill which therefore means, into the scope of the $1,000,000 penalty provided for in the bill.

"(14) FOOD PRODUCTION FACILITY- The term ‘food production facility’ means any farm, ranch, orchard, vineyard, aquaculture facility, or confined animal-feeding operation."

There needs to be clear language as to the definition of all of the above, lest your backyard chicken coop be lumped into a "confined animal-feeding operation", or your grove of apple trees on the back 40 (feet or acres) into an orchard under the bill. And since I do run a Secret Farm, I am concerned that any home garden could be lumped in to the above definition, but I am more concerned about the small organic farmer and CSA's. If there is no language in the bill to make exclusions, it means it is open to interpretation later - and then it will be up to the interpreter at the time, and we can't always rely on that person or body to be reasoned in their judgement, or to have the best interests of the people in mind, rather than the GM industry - (yep, I'm looking at you Monsanto!).

For something as essential as the safety of our food supply and our ability to produce our own food, should we choose, we need to make sure we get it right. Nothing should be rushed through without clear language as to who and what is included under the bill. Especially when there are such things as $1,000,000 fines and unannounced inspections and confiscations involved.

But let me be clear, I do believe we need such a bill, and we need a real overhaul to our food safety system. If the recent (and ongoing!) salmonella peanut recall has taught us anything, I hope it is that we need real improvement and regulation in food safety. But, that reform should not come at the sacrifice of the small and organic food producer. In fact, I think that the small organic producer, the home gardener, and organic farming in general is precisely what will save us from over-pollution. 

We must not resort to fear mongering and paranoia but instead, be vigilant, and informed. Make sure our leaders, whoever they are at the time, know that we are paying attention and will put any needed pressure on to make new laws and regulations reasonable, sane, and in line with keeping the power in the hands of the people and not the corporation. 

March 28, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (31)

Lorika in the Star Tribune!


Hurray! I'm in the Home and Garden section of the Star Tribune today!

The article is on the rise of vegetable gardening in the city.

Check it out!
Homegrown heats up

June 4, 2008 in Current Affairs, Peppers, Secret Gardening, Seedlings, Tomatoes! | Permalink | Comments (4)

Rock the fetus vote!

In other news, the U.S. Senate voted today, 61-38 for a bill that makes it a separate crime to harm a fetus during commission of a violent federal crime. Which may sound good and just on the surface, but remember this is how those sneaky conservatives operate. They call it one thing, but it does something completely different. This bill seems to give more weight to harming a pregnant woman, who could argue with that right? But what it really does is pave the way for defining that life begins at conception, and that a fetus has seperate rights from the mother.

From the article in the Houston Chronicle:
'"This would be the first time in federal law that an embryo or fetus is recognized as a separate and distinct person under the law, separate from the woman," said NARAL president Kate Michelman. "Much of this is preparing for the day the Supreme Court has a majority that will overrule Roe v. Wade."'

The Senate earlier narrowly voted down a similar bill that would have increased penalties for harm to a pregnant woman but did not attempt to define when human life begins. This clearly illustrates the real agenda behind the passing of the Unborn Victims of Violence Act.

Scary stuff, but I'm not buying it until fetuses get the right to vote! I mean, come on, if they should have the same rights as the mother, they gotta have the right to vote too. Stop oppressing the fetus, and trying to keep it's tiny voice stifled! Get out the fetus vote!

March 25, 2004 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Bush makes a "funny"

I was over at Reality Sandwich this evening, and followed a link to Change for America and started reading their Morning News Roundup and found this apalling story about Bush's funny little slide show. Joe Drymala of Change for America says it best with this quote:

'Let me tell you, folks, nothing says "funny" like the Commander-in-Chief publicly joking about the fact that he sent over 500 American troops to their death for no good reason! Even FUNNIER is when the reason was an outright lie. Funnier than THAT is when the troops are STILL IN HARMS WAY!!!'

Yup, pretty f'n he-larious! But why stop there? Why not joke about all the jobs that have been lost since you've been in office too? That would be pretty good. Or, or, wait! No, no, wait. I know! THE WORLD TRADE CENTER! Yeah, yeah, that would be the best! You could have a funny slide of the towers burning, and you could say; Whoops! Guess I should have been paying more attention to Richard, instead of having wet dreams of bombing Iraq! Oh, yeah man. That would be awesome!

On another note, one of my favorite cunning linguists now has a blog, Noam Chomsky! The Turning Tide debuted just 2 days ago, and I'm book markin' this one. Noam is one of the minds I look to for analysis of the U.S. govt. and foreign policy. I'm excited to have hopefully daily writings close at hand.

March 25, 2004 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack