Who’s In Favor of the Food Safety Act?

images10 Google HR 2749 - The Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 and you'll be bombarded by naysayers and haters. Really, is anyone in favor of HR 2749?

The latest version of the Food Safety bill was approved yesterday by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. A recent Washington Post article explains that the new bill reflects compromises between industry and Congress that seem to mitigate some of the problems with earlier versions. For instance, the registration fee some 378,000 would have to pay to fund the bill has been lowered to $500.

It appears that many in the food manufacturing industry are happy to have more oversight, and consumer advocacy groups are in favor of government action to prevent outbreaks like the recent peanut salmonella fiasco. Why, then, are so many organizations claiming that this could end small-scale, local, organic farming; farmers' markets; Community Supported Agriculture, and the like?

Food Freedom claims that this bill gives the FDA illegal power to regulate all Americans, whether you garden at home or on a large industrial scale. The Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund offers a breakdown of the bill and explains their concerns for small farmers.

Claims that the bill is illegal, unconstitutional, totalitarian, and just plain bad are many, and calls to action abound. But where is the proregulation propaganda? We need balance, here. According to the Personal Democracy Forum, for example, "what's of particular interest to us data-minded eaters in these parts is what the bill has to say about applying a modern open-data governing approach to the nearly opaque process by which food today travels from farms to our forks."

The House of Representatives has yet to vote on the bill, and the Senate is even farther behind. There is still plenty of time to find out what's really going on.