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Lame duck Congress to debate controversial new food bill giving Homeland Security authority over the FDA

November 20, 2010

  Late last week the Senate voted for cloture on S 510–the Food Safety Modernization Act–by a margin of 74-25 with little to no fanfare whatsoever. Every Democrat voted in favor of this bill and they were joined by fourteen Republicans, including my retiring Senator, Judd Gregg. On the surface this bill looks benign, after all we all want to make sure that our food sources are safe right? But there are some questions and controversies related to this bill and that is probably why the Senate has moved stealthily on this bill. 

 This bill would expand the role of both the FDA and Department of Health and Human Services, but even more worrisome is the fact that Section 109 of this bill would place the FDA under the Department of Homeland Security. This bill may not be as benign as it appears.

  This bill would usher in sweeping new regulations over just about everybody who grows and sells food, with the exception of large farms and restaurants–they were granted an exemption, strangely enough–and appears to be aimed at small growers who probably sell some food to the local farmers market.

 (2) require that each person (excluding farms and restaurants) who manufactures, processes, packs, distributes, receives, holds, or imports an article of food permit inspection of his or her records if the Secretary believes that there is a reasonable probability that the use of or exposure to such food will cause serious adverse health consequences or death.

  So large farms are exempt from these new regulations and this bill is supposedly being passed to prevent widespread food borne illnesses? How many people who have become sick during  the recent food recalls received the tainted food from the local farmers market? That answer would be zero. So why then does this bill exempt the farms where contamination is most likely to occur while unfairly targeting the little guy?

  Because this bill is about more than just food safety, it is about controlling the food sources. It is about cracking down on those people who have the gall to grow their own food and sell some of it to local markets without first having to be overburdened by restrictive government regulations. These people are not mass producing food where there is a higher likelihood of contamination, yet they are being targeted because the government wants more control over what they grow and what the American people eat.

  So who supports this bill and who opposes it? Here is a look at some of the organizations that support S 510: General Mills, Kraft Foods North America, National Association of Manufacturers and 25 more organizations. While it is opposed by:  American Grassfed Association, Family Farm Defenders, Small Farms Conservancy 93 others.

  It is quite telling that large manufacturers support this legislation while small growers oppose it. This bill would put unfair burdens on local growers; if you enjoy getting fresh fruits and vegetables at the farmers market–foods that were grown locally and are as fresh as can be–you may be out of luck as this bill could regulate those growers out of business.

  What is going on here? Why is this such a high priority in the lame duck Congress? The Congress is looking to reconcile this bill and send it to the president for his signature before the lame duck Congress is over. There has to be a reason for this; I think that we can all agree that there are much more important issues that the Congress should be dealing with right now–from jobs and the economy to the expiration of the Bush tax cuts–it seems odd to me that this would be the issue that the Congress would focus on.

  And speaking of jobs and the economy, imposing more regulations and fees on the small farmer and grower is going to cost some of them jobs as well as causing the prices of food to rise. Is that any way to help a struggling economy? Are rising food costs what struggling Americans need right now? I don’t think so.

  The American people do not know much about this bill as it is being rushed quietly through the Congress and it is on track to be signed into law before the lame duck Congress ends and before the American people even know what is going on. This bill must be stopped and if there is to be a debate on S 510 it needs to take place during the new Congress, after the people have had a chance to read about and learn about this bill. 

  Barack Obama promised to have the most transparent administration in history, but this bill is silently making its way through the Congress unbeknownst to a vast majority of the American people. If Barack Obama and the Congress were serious about transparency they would slow down this bill in order to give the American people the chance to have a look at it, and the only way to do that would be to wait until the new Congress is seated. Yet they feel the need to get this bill done quickly and I for one do not trust them at all.

  The federal government went after healthcare first and we are already beginning to see the horror stories emerge even before the bill has been fully implemented–do we really want them taking more control over our food supply in general, and the local growers specifically? 

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40 Comments leave one →
  1. bunkerville permalink
    November 20, 2010 10:16 am

    We must get the word out on this. We got a reprieve for a week until they come back. This is the most dangerous bill yet to come out of this brain dead congress. This Bill falls into Lock step with WHO…the control of food by governments. in our case DHS in “times of emergency”

    Like

    • November 20, 2010 8:32 pm

      The word it getting out! I am seeing this issue covered more and more on the blogoshere. You are right, we have gained a small reprieve, but the Congress is going to move fast on this issue so we must as well!

      Like

  2. November 20, 2010 10:34 am

    I don’t believe this is the only bill slipping quietly through the senate then the house. They want absolute control over us in all areas. This bill, Senate 510, gives control and alignment to outside governmental agencies “if the United States was required to harmonize with the WTO, SPS, the Uruguay Rounds, and Codex!” ( See http://www.citizens.org/?p=2330 for more information.)

    I fully agree, that contact must be made with the existing congress, but not sure this will be effective as they seem bent on getting this passed along with a lot of other stealth bills floating around while they keep us busy with “unemployment,” “british royalty, etc. . But I also think communications be made to the incoming congress that if this is stealthily passed, that it is repealed immediately.

    Good Posting Steve, am glad you stepped out there to alert everyone. There is a lot more that needs to be looked at.

    Like

    • November 20, 2010 8:34 pm

      I don’t think there is much we can do with this Congress because they have nothing left to lose, but we need to hope we can get this delayed long enough so that the new Congress has to vote on it, that is our only hope at stopping this bill at this point!
      Thank you so much for alerting me to this bill otherwise I would have missed it completely!

      Like

  3. November 20, 2010 10:39 am

    I forgot, it would outlaw gardening and saving seeds, and make us criminal.

    Link

    Like

    • November 20, 2010 8:36 pm

      Thanks for the link! I changed the link because I was having trouble with my blog shortly after you posted it and I thought that the link might have caused a conflict. It turns out that my internet provider was having troubles, but I was in panic mode there for a little while. :)

      Like

      • November 20, 2010 8:39 pm

        Pulse pounding………heart racing………sweat pouring down??? LOL

        Like

      • November 20, 2010 10:46 pm

        Yeah, it was kind of like that! Whew!

        Like

  4. November 20, 2010 12:45 pm

    Great post Steve! I just completed an update to the bill on my site. I will link to you. We need to make this viral and get people calling their senators and representatives. We need to do whatever it takes to get the word out. Like I said I’m tired of falling for these same old tactics of smoke and mirrors. Look here the DREAM Act…the DREAM Act, while over here they’re quietly pushing this freedom stealing, liberty crushing bill through congress. You pose a good question…what about tax cuts, jobs, and the economy? Why does it always seem like every bill they propose supports big business and crushes the little guy? Where are all the bleeding heart liberals standing up for the little guy? Oh I guess tyranny is ok when their guy and their party runs the show. They are nothing but a bunch of pathetic little hypocrites. Sorry for the rant.

    Like

    • November 20, 2010 8:38 pm

      Thanks for the link in advance John! You are correct, we need to get the word out to as many people as possible. We need to stop this bill, the COngress is continuing to step on our freedoms and this must stop now. The left does seem to be running a diversionary tactic but we caught them, hopefully we did so in time!

      Like

  5. November 20, 2010 1:32 pm

    For someone like me who depends on organic and natural food and herbs to treat my illness this will be devastating to me. I agree…send, send, send to everyone.

    Steve, I sent you an email spelling out the major problems with this and all the senators to call.

    Like

    • November 20, 2010 8:39 pm

      This could potentially be devestating to people who are in your situation. We need to call, write, and email our senators and reps and demand that they vote against this!

      Like

  6. November 20, 2010 5:26 pm

    They don’t have the resources, logistics, or the competence to pull it off. But they will be able to pick and choose who they go after.

    Like

    • November 20, 2010 8:40 pm

      Yes they will and you can rest assured that they will go after the “easy targets” who cannot afford to fight them off!

      Like

    • November 21, 2010 9:58 pm

      this is a very important point. this is the sort of situation where they can’t really expect to enforce the law fully and uniformly. doesn’t matter, b/c they probably don’t want to, anyway. they can look past the transgressions of those who have a bit of political privilege. but if you are the type that annoys the political class, watch out! new weapon with which to beat you about the head and shoulders!

      Like

      • November 22, 2010 7:35 am

        Yep, they can choose their victims here and we know it will always be the little guy who cannot afford to fight back. And I thought Democrats were supposed to look out for the middle class.

        Like

  7. November 20, 2010 6:01 pm

    You would think with this bill going after the organic market, liberals would be freaking out. What happened to the “greening” of the planet?

    This reminds me so much of the “anti dog eat dog” bill in Atlas Shrugged. Small private industry proves to be an upstart to the established big business, so the big guys go to the government to shut them down, instead of modifying the way they operate to shut down the little guy through the market – that is the way its supposed to work.

    If a competitor jumps up and takes market share, you learn from that competitor and you destroy him in the marketplace, let your products and ideas when the day. Government needs to stay the hell out of this crap, I am so tired of them picking the winners and the losers in our economy.

    Like

    • November 20, 2010 8:41 pm

      Many of this administration’s policies remind me of Atlas Shrugged. These are scary times we are entering, the government is seeking more and more control everyday, and we are the ones who will suffer because of it!

      Like

  8. Dominique permalink
    November 20, 2010 8:53 pm

    Yes very true I think 2011 Will be a very telling year…very telling.

    Like

    • November 21, 2010 9:32 pm

      So true! We won a great victory in November but the battle is just beginning!

      Like

  9. Deb permalink
    November 20, 2010 9:22 pm

    If “Atlas” shrugs much more, he’s going to tear his rotator cuff. It’s going to be a looooong two years.

    Like

    • November 20, 2010 10:02 pm

      Where is Dagny when we need her?!

      Like

  10. November 21, 2010 7:35 pm

    Okay, someone has to explain this for me. I know we have had a couple of food scares in the last few years. Bad peanuts, bad lettuce, etc. The last time I checked, those scares came from large agriculture and food companies. Why on earth would Congress come up with a bill to address that problem and give exemptions to the very kinds of companies that were at fault? It just doesn’t make sense.

    Like

    • November 21, 2010 9:35 pm

      I wish that I could give you an answer to that question, but that is the part of this bill that is so confusing to me. The only food scares that we have had have come from large food companies, yet it is these very companies who will be exempted from this law. That is why I think there is an ulterior motive to this bill.

      Like

      • November 23, 2010 2:38 am

        http://blacklistednews.com/WHICH-SENATORS-GOT-PAID-OFF-TO-SUPPORT-S.510—THE-%27FOOD-SAFETY-MODERNIZATION-ACT%27%3F/11593/0/0/0/Y/M.html

        This gets deeper and deeper……………

        Like

      • November 23, 2010 2:45 am

        And one more……….

        http://blacklistednews.com/Do-not-let-the-TSA-distraction-take-our-eyes-off-the-Lame-Duck-Session-in-Washington/11595/0/0/0/Y/M.html

        Like

      • November 23, 2010 7:50 am

        Amazing huh? My senator got irpped off, he only got $23,000. Seriously though, this is exactly what the American people are sick and tired of. Look at the money wasted in those earmarks! It is time for this to end!

        Like

      • November 23, 2010 8:44 am

        I feel your pain that your Senator didn’t get as much as others. LOL

        Like

  11. Dominique permalink
    November 21, 2010 7:41 pm

    If you have time, rent the movie FOOD INC. You will understand why this bill is being pushed by big corporations…

    Like

  12. Dominique permalink
    November 21, 2010 7:43 pm

    Larry – Darn I thot my post worked. If you rent the movie, FOOD INC, it will answer your question.

    Like

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