Published on March 10th, 2009 | by Megan Prusynski
Bills Could Reorganize Farming and Criminalize Organic Farming
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In two vague bills introduced both in the House and Senate of the US Congress, a vast reorganization of America’s agriculture system aimed at tracking and regulating foods for public safety could endanger organic farms and gardens.
The bills, S.425 and H.R.875, attempt to modernize food safety and regulate and standardize agriculture by creating an agency called the Food Safety Administration, but in the process they could threaten organic farming.
Provisions include mandatory registration and inspection for “any food establishment or foreign food establishment engaged in manufacturing, processing, packing, or holding food for consumption in the United States,” and sets standard practices such as minimums for fertilizer use.
Any food that the agency deems “unsafe, adulterated or misbranded” can be seized and the food establishment or farm fined. It’s not clear how these foods will be deemed unsafe. The bills aim to industrialize farms, standardize farming practices, require registration and inspection for any one producing food, and make practices key to organic farming illegal.
While we certainly need to improve our food safety, the problem with these bills is that they are so vague and open-ended, they could be used to justify banning organic practices such as composting and seed saving, or to put into law standard practices such as the required use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
The bills are speculated to have been funded by agri-business giants including Monsanto. The threat of the new standards is that only approveed seeds, fertilizers, and farming methods could be used, and if Monsanto gets their way, all farms and gardens be growing their plants and using their products. That is definitely a scary thought.
Organic farming is certainly already revolutionary, but it could be an illegal act if these bills are passed without reworking to protect organic farmers and backyard gardeners. Please contact your senators and representatives today and urge them to protect public health and safety without criminalizing organic farming. There isn’t much time to comment on this bill, so act now!