“Small Farmers Revolt Over FDA’s Proposed Food Safety Rules”

by Walter Olson on September 7, 2013

When Congress passed the Food Safety Modernization Act in 2011, some (I included) warned that it would lay serious regulatory burdens on small producers and distributors of food, threatening to drive many of them out of markets even when their products posed no actual material risk. Lawmakers gestured toward relief for small producers in an amendment, but apparently “gestured” is the operative word. “Now that those who will be regulated under the Act have had time to review and consider the FDA’s proposed FSMA rules, small farmers …are panicking. And with good reason.” [Baylen Linnekin, Reason, earlier; Daren Bakst, Heritage; "New federal regulations could threaten local farms," Michael Tabor and Nick Maravell, The Gazette (suburban Maryland)]

{ 5 comments }

1 Richard Nieporent 09.07.13 at 11:52 am

I was beginning to feel sympathy for the plight of the small farmer until I read the following from the article in the Gazette.

This is one reason why 20 million consumers come to farmers markets like ours and want fresh produce from our fields — preferably grown without pesticides, herbicides or GMO seeds. And sadly, protecting consumers from these synthetic perils is not addressed by FSMA.

Let’s ignore the fact that the increase in yield of agriculture over the last century has prevented hundreds of millions if not billions of people from starving. Instead we should go back to the methods used to grow food in the middle ages, because then there was no starvation.
If that was not bad enough then the article goes on to say:

That partially explains why the “safe food” mandate does nothing to protect us from genetically engineered food, and the harsh chemicals that are necessarily paired with it.

That statement deliberately tries to give an impression that GM foods are full of harsh chemicals. Not only have GM have been shown to be safe but they have been modified to use less chemicals by decreasing the amount of fertilizer that is needed to grow the crop. Yes, let third world people stave because you are anti-science.

However, the above erroneous statements pale in comparison to the following statement:

Nor does the FDA address what is common sense to many scientists, doctors and parents: our bodies are dependent on the good germs and bacteria. If anything, rather than developing the antiseptic globalized industrial-style food system FSMA seeks, we should be searching for ways to increase the amount of good bacteria in our bodies. In fact, fecal implants to repopulate the gut with bacteria are not science fiction — the medical profession is now performing them every day.

The fact we need certain bacteria for our digestive system to work properly means that we should ingest all types of bacteria to make us healthy. That should set medicine back 1000 years.

2 DensityDuck 09.07.13 at 5:41 pm

“If this country were run by vegetarian women instead of flesh-eating men…”

3 Fubar 09.07.13 at 6:38 pm

The conclusion:

The fact we need certain bacteria for our digestive system to work properly means that we should ingest all types of bacteria to make us healthy.

does not follow from the Gazette article’s statement:

If anything, rather than developing the antiseptic globalized industrial-style food system FSMA seeks, we should be searching for ways to increase the amount of good bacteria in our bodies.

Gut flora species and subspecies actually have strong influence on many health conditions, including mental disease, colitis and other bowel disease, weight gain or loss, and even cancer.

I have no opinion, due primarily to ignorance, on whether the federal rules have great impact on production of food that encourages or contains the gut flora known to have beneficial effects. But to state the argument as being for more bacteria, rather than for the specific beneficial bacteria, is to mischaracterize it.

4 Richard Nieporent 09.07.13 at 10:55 pm

Fubar, carefully read what is stated in the article. The article conflates “good” bacteria with the residue that was left of the fruit and vegetables that “have some degree of dirt and bacteria on them”. The bacteria left on the fruit and vegetables is NOT the same as the good bacteria. It is this misdirection that I was making fun of in my comment.

5 Fubar 09.09.13 at 4:12 pm

The bacteria left on the fruit and vegetables is NOT the same as the good bacteria. It is this misdirection that I was making fun of in my comment.

What you saw as conflation and misdirection, I saw as closer to an ineptly stated but correct argument that mere dirt or straw on fruits and vegetables is not harmful to an extent that requires chemical disinfection.

Perhaps because I grew up around small farmers I think nothing of finding dirt or straw on fresh fruits and vegetables. It washes right off. So I see requiring chemical disinfectant baths as imposing a needless expense on small farmers, based upon the government’s presumption that their customers are not bright enough to figure out to wash fruits and vegetables before eating them, regardless of vendor.

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