We have Another Friend in Congress!
Powerful Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro (D-CT) has adopted a position in line with what the Natural Solutions Foundation has been calling for over the last months: the FDA cannot regulate drugs and their major economic competitor, foods. She also applauds our oft-repeated assessment of the FDA’s performance in food safety is beyond dismal and cites the recent – and damning – Government Accountability Office (GAO) study to document just how dismal it is.
Up to now, the solution of the Federal Government to repeated exposure of how dangerous, corrupt and damaged the FDA is has been two fold: either Congress took away powers and responsibilities to set up new agencies (e.g., EPA, Consumer Protection Agency, Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, etc.) or they passed new legislation which gave the failed, and deadly, agency more money and more power to do a worse job with (e.g., 2008 FDA Reorganization Act). The current food safety crisis, with melamine approved for infants, GMO foods and cloned meats and milk approved without scientific studies showing they are safe, fluoridation of water permitted and encouraged despite massive scientific evidence documenting its dangers, irradiation of everything it can find a way to irradiate, including raw nuts and salad greens approved regardless of rational thought, growth hormones, pesticides, veterinary antibiotics permitted in outrageous doses, a relentless assault on dietary supplements, herbs and other non-drug health strategies, multinational servitude in Codex with disastrous results to the world food supply, etc., etc., etc., must be laid solely at the doorstep of one of the most dangerous and corrupt agencies in the history of the United State.
It is time to stop the losses and get food out of the dirty hands of the FDA. The same, of course, is true of the USDA. How? By giving food regulations back to the States where the local interest influences of consumers and the impact of local certification programs can help us to reclaim the production of safe, wholesome food and make it accessible for all of us once again.
Industrial food is killing us.
Let’s kill the messenger and get government out of food and food out of government.
Food Safety Mustn’t Be Left In FDA’s Hands
Congresswoman ROSA L. DELAURO
February 8, 2009
For years now, the American people have learned to live with the possibility that their food may not be safe. The list of incidents has grown month after month, from spinach to shellfish from ground beef to peppers.
Now, a devastating salmonella outbreak has been tied to the Peanut Corp. of America and its Blakely, Ga., plant. It has killed eight people and sickened more than 500 people across the country, and a criminal investigation is underway to determine whether the producer knowingly sold a dangerous, contaminated product.
But this is not just a case of one bad actor. This salmonella outbreak is just the latest — and it represents the full-scale breakdown of a patchwork food safety system. When we look at recent headlines, it is hard not to see a food safety system in crisis — a dysfunctional federal agency, the Food and Drug Administration. unable to perform its mission and protect the American public.
Last month, the Government Accountability Office deemed that the regulatory activities governing food safety continue to pose a “high risk” to the economy and public health — the consequence of a fragmented legal and organizational structure with insufficient authority and too few resources to protect the American people.
While innocent people continued to get sick from contaminated peanut butter, the case lingered in jurisdictional limbo between the FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, causing critical delays. And when the salmonella’s source was finally identified, FDA officials had to wait for industry approval before they could go live with the recall. That is not how a fully functioning regulatory agency is supposed to operate.
To truly fix inherent problems in our food safety system, we must fundamentally restructure the food safety bureaucracy at the FDA. Today, food safety is divided among multiple, separately managed units at the FDA — the Office of the Commissioner, the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, the Center for Veterinary Medicine, the field force (Office of Regulatory Affairs) and the National Center for Toxicological Research. As a result, there is no one single individual to be held accountable for food safety at the FDA or anywhere else at the federal level.
Separating food safety regulation from drug and device approvals would go a long way toward restoring the balance that has long been missing at the federal Department of Health and Human Services, and give food safety the attention it deserves. By establishing a Food Safety Administration within Health and Human Services, headed by its own commissioner, we can give food safety experts and researchers the room and the resources to do their jobs.
Because we need an agency fully committed to actively preventing food-borne illness, not just reacting to it, I have introduced the Food Safety Modernization Act. In addition to establishing a new, separate Food Safety Administration, this legislation would provide the regulatory tools to access important records, recall products and penalize companies for knowingly selling tainted products. It also would require traceability, mandate regular inspections, demand that imported food meet our safety standards and require companies to take preventive measures.
While these are not new ideas, the push for change could not be more urgent. With every recall, the American people grow more concerned and the momentum for reform grows. I know this is an important issue for many of my colleagues in Congress and I look forward to working with them to ensure food safety is a priority.
Ultimately, though, it starts at the top. For eight years, our food safety system has been crippled by disinvestment, mismanagement and a failure to meet its most basic regulatory responsibilities. True reform is going to require strong leadership from our president.
I am confident, at last, that we have a government that understands its obligation to its citizens and is ready to modernize our food safety system to better protect public health.
• U.S. Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro, D-New Haven, represents Connecticut’s 3rd Congressional District and serves as the chairwoman of the Agriculture-FDA Appropriations Subcommittee.