Last week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee voted in favor of the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009. Now the bill is headed to the House floor for consideration. You can read a draft of the bill here.
Take a look at a post on La Vida Locavore about some of the merits of the bill and additional ways to support it. La Vida Locavore also points to important deficiencies and issues regarding the bill, particularly the impact on small farmers.
To read another point of view, take a look at Food Freedom's post on Totalitarian Control of the Food System. Food Freedom argues that giving additional power to the FDA will in fact hurt organic and small farms. Food Freedom writes: "The bill would impose a one-size-fits-all regulatory scheme on small farms and local artisanal producers; and it would disproportionately impact their operations for the worse."
While the bill is far from perfect and there are concerns for the impact to small farmers, food safety is an important issue that requires attention. One of the best parts of the bill is that it empowers the FDA to issue mandatory recalls of food. This is key, as we have seen with the recent food recalls this summer.
I hope that this bill helps to turn some focus onto food issues. While we are hearing a lot about the new energy bill as well as health care reform, we need to address the integral issue that impacts energy use, the environment, and health. This important linkage is, you guessed it, food.
I am concerned that the restrictions in the bill will disproportionally impact small farms/operations, as large companies/operations will not feel the squeeze from the fees and fines associates with the bill. But, on the other hand, it is essential that we empower the government to stand up to large companies regarding food safety!
For the time being, I think the best we can do is encourage Congree to change the bill to ensure the security of small, organic farms and artisanal producers, but also support Food Safety for all of us.