Food Safety Standards Threaten Organic Farming – mnn.com

Here is an article written by Stephanie Rogers over at Mother Nature Network (www.mnn.com) that discusses what the U.S. government is trying to do with organic gardening and food safety. There are two pieces of legislation that have been proposed in order to deal with food safety issues stemming from sicknesses due to tainted produce in recent years. Those bills are H.R. 875, The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009, and H.R. 2479, The Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009.

These bills will put tough guidelines on organic farming, home gardening, and may well put an end to the local farmers market. I am all for food safety, and feel that every American, every human on earth for that fact, deserves safe and wholesome foods. Once again our government attempts to solve a problem by chasing the wrong avenue. It is not the organic farmer, nor the home gardener that has produced tainted produce, it is at the hands of the large industrial farming corporations such as Monsanto. Certainly, agribusinesses like Monsanto want these bills passed because it will eventually drive out their biggest competitors.

You can read the full article by visiting Food Safety Standards Threaten Organic Farming – MNN.com

Customers frightened of food-borne diseases are holding farmers to stringent standards that contradict biologically diverse farming methods.

Is an antiseptic field of greens possible – and is it something that we really even want?
 
In the aftermath of several food safety scares involving crops like spinach, peppers and sprouts, customers are demanding that farmers meet stringent standards to protect them from food-borne diseases like salmonella and E. coli. But those standards are forcing organic farmers to rip out vegetative borders around fields that filter storm water and harbor beneficial insects, which are an alternative to pesticides. And it doesn’t stop there. Perfectly good crops and ponds have been destroyed in the name of food safety.
 
Just ask Dick Peixoto, an organic farmer that had to remove hedges of fennel and flowering cilantro to please customers who demanded sterile buffers around his crops. Vegetation, water and wildlife of any kind are prohibited, and that means taking radical action if an animal so much as brushes up against a crop.
 
“I was driving by a field where a squirrel fed off the end of the field, and so 30 feet in we had to destroy the crop,” he said. “On one field where a deer walked through, didn’t eat anything, just walked through and you could see the tracks, we had to take out 30 feet on each side of the tracks and annihilate the crop.”
 
With food safety legislation moving through Congress, these standards are about to go national, forcing industrial farming methods on organic farmers when industrial agriculture itself may be the culprit for food safety woes.
 
Food guru Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food, has long been a proponent of smaller-scale farming and recently spoke of its benefits in the documentary Food Inc.
 
“Sanitizing American agriculture, aside from being impossible, is foolhardy. You have to think about what’s the logical end point of looking at food this way. It’s food grown indoors hydroponically.”
 
While the goal of food safety legislation, such as the bill sponsored by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles, is honorable – preventing unnecessary deaths from food-borne pathogens – some argue that it’s overreaching and may even be counterproductive. UC Davis scientists found that vegetation buffers can remove as much as 98 percent of E. coli from surface water, and warned that some rodents prefer cleared areas.
 
Dr. Andy Gordus, an environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Game who worked on a two-year study of E. coli in animals, says the demands of some customers are unrealistic.
 
“It’s all based on panic and fear, and the science is not there.”

What are your views about the currently proposed legislation, and the fight against organic farming?


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3 Comments on Food Safety Standards Threaten Organic Farming – mnn.com

  1. There appears to be much concern and some misinformation circulating on the Internet about several proposed pieces of federal legislation on food safety. One fear being expressed by consumers about the bills now being proposed is that they will make it illegal to grow backyard gardens and will be the death of organic farming. The fact is that there is no language to regulate, penalize or shut down backyard gardens, nor to stop organic farming. The proposed Food Safety Modernization Act only addresses food safety issues under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The National Organic Program is actually under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Each annual session of Congress, approximately 15,000 pieces of legislation are proposed on the federal level, with only 2 percent becoming law. Any legislation on food safety will take time. Thus, nothing will happen over night, and there will be a time and a place for public comment. In the meantime, the Organic Trade Association’s has formed a Food Safety Task Force to thoroughly analyze the impact of any food safety legislation being proposed, and will advise the industry and governmental bodies on recommendations that promote and protect organic agriculture and products and improve food safety.

    • Thank you for the very enlightening comment. It is true that many people usually react in jerk-knee fashion, to any type of new bills proposed that may involve a particular interest. It may be this way as well within the vegetable gardening and organic farming communities.

      As I stated in the post, I believe in food safety just as many backyard gardeners do. This is one of the main reasons why people decide to grow their own food in the first place. It is my firm belief that the majority of food safety issues stem from the giant agribusinesses, and not from local gardeners and organic farmers. Those businesses should be the main focus of these bills.

      While you say that there will be a time and a place for public comment, I feel that there is always a time and a place for public comment, debate, and understanding of every party’s views on a subject.

      Just my opinion.

      Tee

  2. new food saftey act is really harsh for small farmers, the FDA should have planned an alternative for small farmers, this isn’t fair, the giants of food industry will definitely take advantage of this.

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