NSAC's Blog

Pollan, Schlosser, McReynolds Weigh in on Food Safety Bill

November 29, 2010

The Senate tentatively expects to begin voting on the Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510) tonight (Nov. 29), around 6:30pm EST and conclude the voting on November 30.   NSAC’s letter to the Senate in support of the measure can be read here.  If you haven’t already called your Senators to voice your support for the “Manager’s amendment, see our latest action alert here.

As debate on the bill comes to a heated conclusion, Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser, authors of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Fast Food Nation respectively, wrote an op-ed in The New York Times published on November 28 in support of the Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510).

The authors, both prominent food and agricultural system reform proponents, debunked several myths that Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) and forces aligned behind his substitute for the bill have been spreading in opposition.

As Pollan and Schlosser write, Coburn claimed on the Senate floor that “only 10 or 20 Americans a year die from a food-borne illness, that the government doesn’t need mandatory recall power because “not once in our history have we had to force anyone to do a recall,” and that the annual cost of the new food safety requirements — about $300 million — is prohibitively expensive.”  The authors countered that about 5,000 Americans die every year from food-borne illness, that companies have refused requests by the FDA to recall their products in the past, and that the $300 million required annually to implement the bill is a pittance in comparison to the $152 billion that food-borne illness costs the United States each year.

Continuing the public debate on the bill, Roland McReynolds, Executive Director of NSAC member group Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, wrote an opinion article in Food Safety News published on November 29, challenging more myths created by opponents of to the Tester amendment that is now part of the underlying bill.

McReynolds responded to the claims made last week by Bob Whitaker, Chief Science Officer for the Produce Marketing Association, that the Food Safety Bill should apply to all producers because “it does not matter what size your plot of land is…pathogens don’t know what size farm they’re on.”  In his article, McReynolds argues that additional regulations are largely unnecessary for small farmers because “the direct relationships that the small producer has with the customers, and the inherently limited nature of her customer base, create a market incentive for protecting those customers as strong as any in the produce business.”

We will of course be reporting on the outcome of the Senate debate tomorrow.

Categories: Food Safety

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