Not long after 2nd Green Revolution launched in early 2009, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Food Safety Modernization Act was introduced into the House of Representatives. After passing through the lower chamber of Congress, it has been essentially stuck in the Senate for more than a year. The bill just passed through the Senate during the current “lame-duck” session.
Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D., Commissioner of Food and Drugs for the FDA appeared in front of the Senate’s Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions on October 22, 2009. Her testimony addressed the bill and the need for improved food safety. The issue is one of national security, as has been argued by countless members of Congress, but it is also a public health concern.
This bill contains local food provisions aimed at small farmers who sell directly to consumers. Senator John Tester (D-MT) was quoted as saying “‘I think if we can get more locally grown food—if we can get producers to connect up the consumers eyeball to eyeball—that’s a positive thing.’” Part of the legislation that has been struck down sought to ban Bisphenol A (BPA). According to the FDA, “Bisphenol A (BPA) is an industrial chemical that has been present in many hard plastic bottles and metal-based food and beverage cans since the 1960s.” Recent data suggests there may be a link between BPA and certain medical conditions, including cancer and early onset puberty.
While the bill stalled and interest groups seemingly had their way with various provisions (NPR reports that the chemical industry would have caused the BPA ban to be blocked), the need for domestic production of healthy, non-toxic materials remains a key component of long term viability. As mentioned in a recent post, these products help ensure healthy communities. In addition, the promotion of local economies and reduction of potentially harmful chemicals in everyday life are integral for social stability and environmental sustainability.
Some reports suggest that the bill would do more harm than good, especially regarding the growing and selling of food by individuals. After browsing through the bill (see the link above in the first sentence of this post) I could not find the aforementioned objections. Read the bill and see what you think.