The Senate passed its version of the Food Safety Modernization Act yesterday, meaning the bill is a step closer to becoming law. The act now goes back to the House, which already passed its own version (with important differences) of the bill. However, because of the current lame duck nature of Congress and the inherent time restraints, the usual bill reformulation may not be possible.
Therefore, the House may just accept the Senate’s version (which it rarely does), avoiding the time-consuming procedures that could cause the death of the bill. If the House quickly passes the Senate’s version, it will go to President Obama, who has said he will sign it into law.
That’s actually the easy part.
I’m still trying to figure which details are good or bad. The big food producers were originally all for the bill, which is obviously worrisome for anyone concerned with the industrialized and impersonal nature of our food supply. But once Senator Jon Tester’s (D-MT) amendment giving protections to small farmers and food producers was added, several industry trade groups opposed the bill. Unfortunately, the House's version doesn't include these protections, but does include funding for many more inspections.
The talk radio mistruths that morphed into accepted belief didn't help. And then both political extremes started spewing tales of an FDA-Fascist conspiracy of Orwellian proportions . . .
Bottom line? We should all grow our own vegetables, keep two or three chickens, have a milking cow, plus fish and hunt.
You want to be really confused? The photo I included of dead chickens doesn't really belong here since the FDA, the subject of this bill, does not have oversight of chickens. That's the USDA's job. But the FDA regulates eggs, so maybe the photo is OK.
Click below for the respective news organizations’ coverage of the Senate’s passing of the act. However, the best summary of where we now stand (and a great lesson in how our legislature works) can be found at Food Safety News. And for the contents of both bills, click here.
New York Times
Wall Street Journal
Des Moines Register