Imported Food Safety a Priority
By Jerry Hagstrom
WASHINGTON (DTN) -- House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said Thursday he plans to make the safety of imported food a priority as Congress attempts to reform the nation's food safety system.
Is he referring to the large number of "food safety" bills in Congress?
It is clear from even a superficial reading of HR 875 that "the Administrator" is set up to allow for a variance (exemption) for foreign food, one of the few (or only?) in the bill.
(d) VARIANCES.-States and foreign countries that export produce intended for consumption in the United States may request from the Administrator variances from the requirements of the regulations under subsection (c).
To give Peterson the benefit of the doubt, he must not have read the bill.
Mr. Peterson received these contributions and OCA calls him an agribusiness and biotech cheerleader .
|Industry||Donation||% of total|
|Misc Business||$79,192||7.3 %|
|Energy/Nat Resource||$43,494||4.0 %|
|Lawyers & Lobbyists||$42,980||4.0 %|
And who would run any new centralized "food safety" agency and decide this issue of the inspection of foreign food?
"Apparently, President Obama is considering appointing Michael Taylor to head the new Food Safety Working Group. Who's Michael Taylor? From Food Politics"
"The man has moved in and out of roles at the federal government and Monsanto so many times he probably has whiplash."The DTN describes him as "Michael Taylor, a George Washington University health policy professor who served as a deputy FDA commissioner," omitting his controversial past history of approving the first genetically engineered product ever, for Monsanto, or his work with Monsanto.And Taylor is now on record as saying he wants less inspection: "We need to complete the transformation of FSIS as a food safety agency, away from inspection to a science-based public health agency."Carol Tucker Foreman agrees.She just testified that Congress should give the FDA's food safety division a mandate to prevent food-borne illness rather than continue its current mandate to stop the spread of illness after it breaks out. (That is, eliminate inspections used to spot problems that do exist.)
Top USDA officials actively covered-up the problems at ConAgra, allowing tainted meat to flow month after month into the stream of commerce under the USDA seal of wholesomeness. Numerous whistleblowers during GAP's investigation disclosed that top USDA officials took actions to shield the giant food conglomerate from complying with food safety laws while using the same laws to bully small, often family-run, businesses.
"... Day by day, our suspicions increase that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is in cahoots with ConAgra. We have conducted our own investigation into the ConAgra tainted meat recall and our ample evidence proves that the USDA aggressively enforced a 'Don't Look, Don't Tell' [no inspections] policy in its dealings with ConAgra," said Devine.
The key findings of the investigative report include:
* The American public's exposure to E. coli o157:H7 began at least two years before ConAgra's tainted meat recall in June of 2002.
* The USDA's records system is fundamentally flawed and is designed to avoid knowing the source of tainted beef.
* ConAgra slickly took advantage of the government's noninterference policy of "Don't Look, Don't Tell." [No inspections.]
* The USDA engages in persistent, ugly retaliation against anyone who attempted to expose its dereliction of duty: To inform the public of tainted meat coming into the stream of commerce. The USDA aided and abetted ConAgra in blaming its problems on a small, family-owned meat processor in Montana
* A regulatory double standard has comprised the integrity of the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) food safety program. HACCP was designed as an early warning system on finding deadly contaminants in food. The USDA used HACCP to protect ConAgra, not the consumer.
* The facts demonstrating ConAgra's strong-arm tactics against a small producer perpetuate a longstanding USDA pattern where the messenger is blamed and chosen as the fall guy.
"Due to politically motivated, self-serving and arbitrary practices by the USDA, I have been forced to list my business for sale," said John Munsell, owner of Montana Quality Foods and whose experience with ConAgra and USDA is the catalyst for GAP's investigation. "My meat processing plant has been in my family for 57 years. When I tried to report the truth of this tainted meat tragedy last summer, I learned that the USDA is against the truth and for shielding the big guy from public embarrassment. The consumer and small producers like me are the losers in this game."
Munsell speaks of "the facade FSIS has orchestrated of the HACCP. I intend to provide you irrefutable evidence in this letter not only to demonstrate how tracebacks to the origin are not being accomplished, but that FSIS policies have been specifically designed to prevent such tracebacks."
72 such small meat processors in Kansas alone were put out business by HACCP.
Is Hazardous Agribusiness Crushing Clean Producers?
The "food safety" bills in Congress are a second WTO-related plan intended to do what Monsanto's Taylor suggests - "move away from inspection," swapping it for an alleged "science-based" system like HACCP. HACCP is small potatoes compared to the "food safety" plans now in those bills, but even puny HACCP massively centralized food into corporate hands and put the safe local processors out of business. The new bills go much, much further, taking control over all food in the US - all farms, farmers markets, coops, gardens, church kitchens, homes - adding immense police state power with warrantless searches, surveillance, penalties of up to a million dollars a day and ten years in prison - putting it all into the hands of one person ... with no judicial review.
But we can rest easy. Foreign food is safe ... from control.