After such a rocky—and at times dramatic—road through the Congress, the Food Safety Modernization Act’s final journey across President Obama’s desk was rather anti-climatic. The President signed the historic food safety bill into law on January 4, giving the U.S. Food and Drug Administration more authority and better tools to prevent unsafe and contaminated food from sickening Americans.
But even before the ink dried on the President’s signature, Republican opponents of the bill were vowing to block the $1.4 billion in funding needed to execute the legislation.
“The food safety legislation will have to compete for funding with a litany of other priorities,” Fred Love, a spokesman for Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa), who sits on the appropriations subcommittee that deals with the FDA, told the Los Angeles Times in an e-mail. “When one considers the record deficits our country faces and the renewed focus on fiscal restraint in the U.S. House of Representatives, it's going to be very difficult to find the money to pay for implementation of the bill.”
Will law make our food safer?
As NewHope360 has reported, many organizations and individuals within the natural, organic and healthy products industry supported passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act.
“A strong benefit of this legislation is the focus it will bring to the importance of food safety and that all food producers grasp how important it is to do a thorough food safety risk assessment and then implement measure to mitigate those risks—much of which can be simple steps,” said Will Daniels, senior vice president of operations and organic integrity at Earthbound Farm.
Others, however, caution that new law alone won’t be enough to keep the U.S. food system truly safe. “This bill may be a step in the right direction but it's a very small step,” said Ken Whitman, president of Peter Gilham’s Natural Vitality.
“We still have unsanitary factory feedlots, overcrowded poultry and hog farms, which are breeding grounds for pathogens. We still have pesticides, herbicides and fungicides that run off and find their way into groundwater and end up in our food supply as chemical residues," Whitman added. "We still have unlabeled GMO produce [that] hasn't been properly tested for short- and long-term health effects. If we want to get to the source of these safety problems there's a lot more work to be done in the public interest.”