Natural Foods Merchandiser

Details of H.R. 875: Food Safety Modernization Act

Status: Dead

Sponsor: Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn.

Full Text: Food Safety Modernization Act

Retailer know-how: H.R. 875 would have established a new Food Safety Administration within the Department of Health and Human Services, consolidating functions from different agencies, and renamed the Food and Drug Administration the “Federal Drug and Device Administration.”

Rumors spread via email and blogs that H.R. 875 was backed by the St. Louis-based agricultural chemical and genetically engineered seed company Monsanto and would eliminate organic farming. One email claimed that H.R. 875 “will require organic farms to use specific fertilizers and poisonous insect sprays” and would “criminalize the backyard gardener.”

Consumers Union, the Center for Science in the Public Interest and other progressive groups supported the bill, but even organic experts had a hard time dispelling rumors. The way the bill was drafted did not help, notes Seattle plaintiffs’ attorney Bill Marler, who represents people sickened by food. He reviewed the bills with two laptops open – one displaying the existing Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act, the other the proposed new sections. Reading the complete document (which includes definitions) alongside the proposed amendments makes it clear that the bill targets only food producers involved in interstate commerce, according to Marler. Because most people read only the proposed amendments and not the original FFDCA, they became alarmed and were unsure of the bill’s impact on organic farming, farmers’ markets, etc.

Parts of this bill were incorporated into H.R. 2749: Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009.

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