August 16, 2013
Release: FDA Begins Much-Needed Environmental Impact Process for Produce Safety Regulations
Washington, DC, August 16, 2013 – Today, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a notice of intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for its proposed produce safety regulations released for public comment in January. Initially, the agency decided that it did not need to conduct an environmental assessment despite the potential for very significant environmental impact.
“The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition has advocated for a full-scale environmental impact assessment and we are glad that FDA is finally taking steps in that direction,” said Ariane Lotti, Assistant Policy Director with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. “Food safety and environmental goals should go hand-in-hand, and it is critical to make sure that the proposed new food safety regulations will not deplete natural resources or further contaminate the environment.”
The proposed produce regulations include a number of standards that could conflict with farm conservation and environmental goals. The regulations include standards for water use on farms that encourage groundwater over-drafting, wildlife and grazing restrictions, and severe limitations on the use of manure and compost that are foundational to integrated farming systems.
“Conservation practices used in sustainable farming systems provide multiple public health benefits that can also contribute to the safety of produce production,” noted Lotti. “These practices should be encouraged, yet in its proposed regulations FDA is creating incentives for the use of limited groundwater and aquifer resources, the destruction of wildlife habitat, and the use of synthetic chemicals over more natural options.
“While we wish the agency had conducted the impact assessment before publishing its proposed rule, we are hopeful that FDA will incorporate the conclusions of the assessment into the next iteration of its produce safety regulations,” said Lotti. “Given the magnitude of the issues involved, we are urging the agency to issue a second proposed rule so the public can meaningfully comment on any revisions made to the rule in response to the environmental assessment.”
The proposed regulations have been issued pursuant to the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010. In that Act, Congress specifically requires the FDA to take into consideration the conservation and environmental practice standards and polices established by Federal natural resource conservation, wildlife conservation, and environmental agencies.
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition is an alliance of grassroots organizations that advocates for federal policy reform to advance the sustainability of agriculture, food systems, natural resources, and rural communities.
Categories: Press Releases