August 27th, 2009

omg

More "Big Government, Big Mistake"

I just found out about a new bill (and here), being introduced in the midst of Obama[s]care, and being pushed through by Monsanto (a huge chemical and plant genetic engineering company), Cargill, ADM, and about 35 other related agri-giants.

First of all, I want to state that I believe this bill is attacking the problem of food safety from the wrong angle. The reason for food borne illnesses in agriculture is because of the food but because of unsanitary work conditions. When you refuse to follow basic hygiene practices you spread germs (yes, I'm talking to all you sick people who refuse to wash their hands after using the bathroom). When conditions are such that you know you won't have facilities to wash your hands, carry a bottle of sanitizer. They are cheap, small and effective.

Second of all I want to state for the record that there is nothing in the Constitution that gives Congress or the several States the power to enact this kind of legislation. Not only does it create a new agency instead of modifying the laws of an existing one (like the Food and Drug Administration, for example), but it clearly states in the first section it's intended purpose as well as making vague generalizations to "other purposes". As a matter of fact, Section 2 makes the whole thing sound like one of those "Really Good Ideas".

Title I pretty much spells out some of the powers and duties of the administrator of this new food safety admnistration, but no word on how it is all going to be paid for, since it will involve acquiring parts of other agencies (including NOAA, the FDA, and others as considered necessary). It also gives the administrator control over the hiring of employees and establishment of bureaus and departments as deemed necessary, fixing the salary of said employees, and the hiring of consultants and experts as necessary and as provided by other parts of the U.S. Code. Basically it's administrivia and not much else. Of course nothing about how it is all going to be paid for, yet.

Title II begins the odiousness of this bill. Sec 201.a.1-2:
SEC. 201. ADMINISTRATION OF NATIONAL PROGRAM.
6 (a) IN GENERAL.The Administrator shall
7 (1) develop, administer, and annually update a
8 national food safety program (referred to in this sec
9tion as the program) to protect public health; and
10 (2) ensure that persons who produce, process,
11 or distribute food meet their responsibility to pre
12vent or minimize food safety hazards related to their
13 products.

This is very general and can very well apply to all from the backyard gardeners who prepare for themselves only to those who sell at farmers markets and to grocery stores to the agri-giant complexes run for profit and little other reason.

Do you want the government in your backyard telling you what you can grow to eat and what you can't? This section part here gives them that authority. Section 201 also allows for enactment of fees for registration or reregistration, sharing of all info gained in said registration with other governmental agencies (talk about invasion of privacy by the government, but who cares right? They already have your social security number.) This bill stinks of Representatives seeking to overstep the bounds of the Constitution for the sake of a handful of lobbyists for the agri-giants listed above. Monsanto doesn't represent me or my views. They represent their own bottom line.

The best part so far is Section 203.b.1.A
19 (1) to adopt preventive process controls that
20 (A) reflect the standards and procedures
21 recognized by relevant authoritative bodies;

Who are these recognized relevant authoritative bodies? Is Monsanto, Cargill, ADM and the other sponsors of these bills involved? I wouldn't doubt such involvement from them. Again, of course, this looks like one of those "Really Good Things" part of the bill.

(D) limit the presence and growth of con
2taminants in food prepared in a food establish
3ment using the best reasonably available tech
4niques and technologies; and

There go your mom and pop diners despite their high health department scores.

8 (2) to establish a sanitation plan and program
9 that meets standards set by the Administrator;

Having taken the ServeSafe certification course and being big into food safety myself, this is already covered via State agencies. Now the government is once again infringing on the job of the several States to do the job.

When are we going to take a stand against big government? When are we going to take a stand against those Representatives and Senators that continue to flaunt the Constitution as they pass unConstitutional law after law? This whole bill screams out against all that we as a nation should hold dear. If I were to go into detail section by section this post would be huge, so let me just continue hitting the highlights.

Talk about fearmongering. in 207.a.2 an "outbreak" of food borne illness, with this law, would occur with only two cases. Such an epic amount of fail in this law already.

207.b begins talking about increasing "FOOD-BORNE ILLNESS SURVEILLANCE SYSTEMS" without any regard to funding, seemingly placing a large, unfunded, burden on state and local agencies. The rest of the section goes on to spell out just how much the Federal government will be getting involved in everything.

Section 208 goes on about certifying agents and accredited governments, including – in vague detail – criteria for certification/accredidation. The aggregate result of all of this is going to be increased price for the consumer as businesses scramble to come into compliance with this act so they can continue to make a profit. Will the prices ever go down? No, because the cost of compliance will never go away.

It's only in Section 209 that we even begin to talk about how the "Administrator" shall go about getting resources to implement the act. I guess they figure lawmakers and the average citizen, if they make it this far, will just glaze over this part. To be quite honest though I'm quite interested in exactly what it has to say about "gathering resources" and the "resource plan" (to be updated annually) needed.

209.b.1 finally gets into talking about the financial resources needed by this act as well as personnel requirements. No wonder government jobs are so highly desired, they are seemingly endless and almost for life.

209.b.3
17 (3) describe the personnel, facilities, equipment,
18 and other resources needed to carry out inspection
19 and other oversight activities, at a total resource
20 level equal to at least 50 percent of the resources re
21quired to carry out inspections in food establish
22ments under section 205 and food production facili
23ties under section 206

24 (A) in foreign establishments and produc
25tion facilities; and
26 (B) at the point of importation.


Emphasis mine. If I'm reading this right, at least 50% of the requested budget, if not more, should be dedicated solely to carrying out these inspections, annually. Talk about your inflating budget items.

209.c talks specifically about the grants to be awarded to state and local authorities for their parts in the implementation of this act. Even more money to be spent, but no mention of where this money is to actually come from. Are we going to cut Federal services to pay for this? Doubtful.

209.d How many committees does it take to pass a budget? At least two and possibly more!
6 (d) SUBMISSION OF PLAN.The Administrator shall
7 submit annually to the Committee on Appropriations of
8 the Senate, the Committee on Appropriations of the House
9 of Representatives, and other relevant committees of Con
10gress, the resource plan required under this section.


Yeah, brilliant idea guys. Let's tack on some pork to their budget, I mean resource plan, while we're at it too.

I have no idea how they plan on implementing Section 210. I mean seriously.
12 (a) IN GENERAL.The Administrator, in order to
13 protect the public health, shall establish a national
14 traceability system that enables the Administrator to re
15trieve the history, use, and location of an article of food
16 through all stages of its production, processing, and dis
17tribution.

I'd love to see how they manage to micromanage that into working.

At least 210.c.2 spells out that the Administrator shall not be pressured into requiring the use of any one specific technology to carry out the maintenance of records or labeling but there is nothing to prevent the big A from doing so, either.

210.c.3 can we spell redundant?

210.c.4 again with the serious micromanaging. Do we need to stick rfid devices in our fruits and veges now?

210.d.2 requires the administrator to look into laws over 60 years old! Holy smokes batman, don't you think we should just update those laws before we use them as a basis for today's laws?

Section 211 OOO, laboratories! <insert-evil-laughter>; and not just any laboratories but accredited ones. I would like to personally like to know how one person, or one group of people working for government can ever be qualified to actually accredit a laboratory without any scientific background at all? This whole act is supposed to be a science based approach to preventing food borne illness but all I've seen mentioned about science is how others will use it and not how the government employees will use it. I would hope this Administrator, at least the first one, holds at least one PhD in a related field.

The entirety of Section 211 deals with accredidation but doesn't deal with the ability of a lay person coming into this job to adequately do the job him/herself! No requirements for yourself if you want the Administrator position. Perhaps I should apply!

Ooooo, I'm all trembly. Page 75 of the PDF document gets starts out Title II: Research and Education

While Section 301.a.1 clearly states it wants to reduce the public health burden of food-borne illness it completely ignores the public tax burden that this Act is going to be. Either way folks, it's going to cost you money.

301.a.5 Oh boy. Key spending word here is "state of the art". Oh yeah, this Act is going to be expensive to implement, make no doubt about it. With Obama[s]care undoubtedly going to be implemented, expect to see a tax hike nationwide at local, state and federal levels. There is no way this bill, along with Obama[s]care, can be implemented otherwise.

301.c.1.A Now we're coming down to the meat of the matter, so to speak. Now the government is going to assume what is best for everyone. Of course in 301.b.2.A it wants to use market-based studies to help (because of course this is going to appease those who oppose big government) take these samples that will eventually lead to a banned food list. "Oh no you can't eat this because it's statistically bad for people." Forget you. I'll eat what I want when I want how I want.

301.c.1.B refers to "industry and regulatory approaches to minimize hazards in the food supply." WHOOPS! There goes my grocery bill, just went up some more!

301.c.2.A
14 (A) a comparison of the safety of commer
15cial processing with the health hazards associ
16ated with food that is harvested for recreational
17 or subsistence purposes and prepared non18
commercially;

Wow, I wonder where that is going. /sarcasm

Section 302. I'm not even going into detail on this section, entitled Public Education and Advisory System.

Section 303. Research! Finally some science I can believe in! (Oops, did I infringe on someone's copyright?)

Oooo, I like 303.b I need to apply for that job as well.

Well at least Section 307 has some monetary accountability. Let's see how that turns out.

Oo! Verboten! Forbidden! Title IV deals with enforcement. I wonder what kind of prison time I can get for growing tomatoes in my yard without using government approved methods.

Section 406 is a real mind bender.
18 In any action to enforce the requirements of the food
19 safety law, the connection with interstate commerce re
20quired for jurisdiction shall be presumed to exist.

So it doesn't matter if the food never left the county it was produced in, or was produced by a local company for local distribution. You are automatically under the jurisdiction of the FSA for the purpose of the act. Doesn't that infringe on states rights? I'm sure it does.

So in 407.a.2 I wouldn't be a covered individual. Does this mean backyard gardeners are not covered by this Act at all? Something to consider. The rest of this onerous piece of legislation, though, is all about a reduction in consumer choice while piling on more expense at the expense of the American taxpayer.

Title V provides for the implementation and reorganization of affected agencies no later then 180 days after implementation of this act. At least he'll be busy with this and not promoting Obama[s]care.

All in all not something totally heinous, if you ignore for a few moments the immense cost of even implementing this, not to mention maintaining it. You'll also have to ignore the slight stripping of states rights with regards to jurisdictional boundaries. You'll also have to ignore who actually sent this bill to congress and who is now sponsoring it.

Sponsors of this bill as of right now:

Rep Berkley, Shelley [NV-1] - 2/11/2009
Rep Bishop, Sanford D., Jr. [GA-2] - 2/4/2009
Rep Bishop, Timothy H. [NY-1] - 2/4/2009
Rep Carson, Andre [IN-7] - 2/11/2009
Rep Castor, Kathy [FL-11] - 2/4/2009
Rep Courtney, Joe [CT-2] - 3/3/2009
Rep DeFazio, Peter A. [OR-4] - 2/4/2009
Rep DeGette, Diana [CO-1] - 2/4/2009
Rep Engel, Eliot L. [NY-17] - 2/4/2009
Rep Eshoo, Anna G. [CA-14] - 2/4/2009
Rep Farr, Sam [CA-17] - 2/10/2009
Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] - 2/4/2009
Rep Frank, Barney [MA-4] - 3/19/2009
Rep Giffords, Gabrielle [AZ-8] - 2/4/2009
Rep Grijalva, Raul M. [AZ-7] - 2/4/2009
Rep Hall, John J. [NY-19] - 2/4/2009
Rep Hinchey, Maurice D. [NY-22] - 2/4/2009
Rep Hirono, Mazie K. [HI-2] - 2/4/2009
Rep Johnson, Eddie Bernice [TX-30] - 2/12/2009
Rep Kaptur, Marcy [OH-9] - 2/4/2009
Rep Lee, Barbara [CA-9] - 2/4/2009
Rep Lowey, Nita M. [NY-18] - 2/4/2009
Rep McCollum, Betty [MN-4] - 2/10/2009
Rep McDermott, Jim [WA-7] - 2/4/2009
Rep McGovern, James P. [MA-3] - 2/4/2009
Rep Moore, Gwen [WI-4] - 2/4/2009
Rep Murphy, Christopher S. [CT-5] - 2/4/2009
Rep Nadler, Jerrold [NY-8] - 2/4/2009
Rep Norton, Eleanor Holmes [DC] - 2/12/2009
Rep Ruppersberger, C. A. Dutch [MD-2] - 3/10/2009
Rep Ryan, Tim [OH-17] - 2/4/2009
Rep Sanchez, Linda T. [CA-39] - 2/4/2009
Rep Schakowsky, Janice D. [IL-9] - 2/4/2009
Rep Schauer, Mark H. [MI-7] - 2/4/2009
Rep Slaughter, Louise McIntosh [NY-28] - 2/4/2009
Rep Stark, Fortney Pete [CA-13] - 2/12/2009
Rep Sutton, Betty [OH-13] - 2/4/2009
Rep Tierney, John F. [MA-6] - 3/3/2009
Rep Wasserman Schultz, Debbie [FL-20] - 2/4/2009
Rep Wexler, Robert [FL-19] - 3/3/2009

Contact the sponsors of this bill, contact your representatives, tell them NO to more governmental interference. Tell them NO to interference by Monsanto (a huge chemical and plant genetic engineering company), Cargill, ADM, and about 35 other related agri-giants.

Tell the lobbyists to get out of the way and let the people's voice be heard!

Full text of the bill can be found here or here.

[tags]government, politics[/tags]