The Food Modernization Act has stalled again! This time it has stalled because of a glaring issue to do with taxes. When senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) introduced the legislation, it was hailed as groundbreaking for its allowance of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to exercise their inherent powers–ordering recalls and increasing inspections.
The bill passed the House and overwhelmingly passed the Senate 73-25, but the issue now has to do with fees that could be interpreted as taxes. In accordance with the Constitution, new taxes must be introduced by the House. This fact seems to raise eyebrows because the Congress should have understood this (they’re Senators), and ironed out any provisions that would stall this legislation–especially when it took them an inordinate amount of time to “look” over this legislation.
S.510 presents itself as a very powerful bill but when looked at carefully, the bill is fraught with internal conflict and toothless jargon.
The FDA has the power to step in when a company abuses its charter, but the FDA will now have the power to randomly select (or harass) which company needs inspection, regardless if its factory farm or small community co-op. This power must raise red flags because of the revolving door between large corporations and the government. Case in point, the current Deputy Commissioner of Food for the FDA is Michael R. Taylor, a former lawyer for multi-national corporation Monsanto.
Will anyone have the time, resources, or most importantly the willingness to go through massive records of large corporations. We shall see in the coming years.
The new legislation also will, no doubt, impact small organic farmers and raw dairy suppliers. The government will now have the authority to perform raids on modest operations such as what Quaker farmers have, producing and selling raw milk to their surrounding community. Its not hard to imagine something similar to the spectacle that took place at Rawesome in Venice, California happening to the Quakers.
Similar to the REDD-plus initiative to save the world’s forests, this legislation has broad support from consumer advocacy groups who desperately want regulation on food, but also know that corporations will bend but never break from their profit-driven modus operandi.