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Family Farmers Fear Being Run Over By Food Safety Juggernaut

 Family Farmers Fear Being Run Over By Food Safety Juggernaut

PR Newswire

CORNUCOPIA, Wis., April 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ – Momentum is building in Congress for new food safety reforms aimed at addressing the growing cycle of food contamination outbreaks. But concerns are also being raised cautioning legislators not to trample organic farmers, backyard gardeners and consumers of fresh local foods in the rush to fix food safety problems.

“There is no question that our increasingly industrialized and concentrated food production system needs a new regulatory focus,” said Will Fantle, of The Cornucopia Institute, a Wisconsin-based organic food and agriculture watchdog. “No one disputes that our food safety system is broken,” Fantle added.

In the last several years, contamination of bagged spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, beef, and peanuts have sickened thousands of Americans. And currently a massive recall of food products containing pistachios is underway.

After years of industry-friendly regulations and deteriorating inspection budgets, holes in the food safety net have prompted a push for increased federal oversight.

The process has sparked an internet flurry, with some warning that agribusiness and biotechnology lobbyists are conspiring to outlaw organic farming and home gardens. One bill, The Food Safety Modernization Act (HR 875), sponsored by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), has been a lightning rod for criticism.

Congresswoman DeLauro is scrambling to assure organic advocates that they are not the target of her bill: “The purpose of this bill is to improve the safety of food products derived from large industrial processing facilities by increasing the inspection frequency and safety standards at these plants.”

Added DeLauro: “Organic farmers have a strong record in providing safe, high quality foods to American families and I will continue to work toward making sure that organic farming continues to thrive.”

Hearings have already begun on food safety legislation in the U.S. House. Of the multiple bills being considered, the FDA Globalization Act (HR 759), sponsored by Congressman John Dingell (D-MI), appears most likely to be voted on, with elements of the other bills, including DeLauro’s, possibly incorporated into the bill.