What’s For Dinner: Corporate Food Tyranny (1 of 2)

Food Freedom

Last April the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF) filed a lawsuit against the FDA’s interstate raw milk ban. While the suit is unlikely to prevail given likely court deference to the imperial executive branch, it’s already done important work in eliciting a remarkable statement of the FDA’s ideology and general attitude toward the American people. Before I get to the FDA brief, let’s first recap the pending food bill. This bill has been the subject of great controversy, with many like me calling it a Food Tyranny bill, others dismissing this as overly alarmist. I will establish in this two-parter that there’s nothing exaggerated in the alarm we raise. I’ll cite the evidence of the government’s stated ideology and its record of action to date.

But first let’s look at what the food bill actually says. (There are actually many of these bills. So far the only one which passed was HR 2749 in 2009. This was the main House food “safety” bill. The Senate’s corresponding version is S 510, currently in limbo. Reid had said he’d seek cloture during the lame duck session, but it’s now questionable whether that will be possible, pending the outcomes of still-disputed races. At any rate, if S 510 passes it will go into conference with HR 2749. Henceforth I’ll refer to this pending conference as “the” food bill, although there are significant differences between the House and Senate versions. The Senate version was considerably improved in committee, thanks to public interest pressure. But in spite of the optimism of NSAC and others, I’m going to go by the established trend, exemplified by the health racket bailout and the sham finance “reform”, that the conference results in a bill far worse than the better version, and perhaps even worse than both prior versions, as in the case of the health “insurance” Stamp Act.) For much of this I’ll be drawing on this excellent analysis at Food Freedom, which includes citations of the bill’s sections and subsections for every point.

The bill claims to be about food safety, vs. both pathogens and terrorism. But the fact is that all threats to food safety are either caused or magnified by our dependence upon a radically centralized industrial food production and distribution system. Existing regulations, if rigorously enforced against big corporate producers, would have been sufficient to prevent recent outbreaks like the egg salmonella, the peanut butter salmonella, or the spinach E. coli.

Instead, this bill imposes a one-size-fits-all standard on all producers and distributors of any size. This standard is intended to be a minor nuisance at most to the big corporations (and probably won’t even be that, given the government’s record of benign neglect of the big offenders), while imposing a tremendous, perhaps insurmountable, financial and logistical burden on small outfits.

So the bill will definitely do nothing to improve food safety. The bill is definitely crafted to further centralize the system, further shackle us to corporate agriculture, and make our food even less safe. That’s indisputable. I suppose the only “controversy” here is whether that’s the government’s intent or not, and therefore whether under this bill things would just get inertially worse, or whether on the contrary it will be aggressively used as a weapon of accelerated tyranny. I’ll argue it’s the latter, and provide evidence.

There’s plenty of evidence of malicious intent in the bill itself.

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