Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Control the Food, Control the People! (Part 1)

HR 2749: Welcome to the Global Plantation
By Doreen Hannes
August 14, 2009
HR 2749 Authorizes International Take-Over of Domestic Food Production
Congressional staffers have been telling people that HR 2749, the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009, does not authorize the National Animal Identification System (NAIS). Many organic groups have agreed with them. However, this is misleading. Though HR 2749 does not name "the" National Animal Identification System, it still authorizes the program. It also does not state that it legally authorizes Good Agricultural Practices, or GAP, partially comprising Codex guidelines on traceability and food safety, and the OIE's Guide to Good Farming Practices including auditing, certification and inspections, disincentives for not participating in the form of fines, penalties, and loss of access to market, but it does. Is it possible that Congress was not aware of what it voted on? The bill was changed three times in a 24-hour period before passing the House 283-142 on July 30, 2009.
Are these assertions about HR 2749 wild and unsubstantiated? Proving them is fairly easy—just understand “Good Agricultural Practices” (GAP), how the agencies of the World Trade Organization operate within member countries to achieve them and what comprises the actual jurisdiction of the FDA and USDA. A brief explanation follows, along with substantiating quotes from HR 2749.
First we look to jurisdiction in HR2749….
"Nothing in this Act or any amendment made by this Act shall be construed to alter the jurisdiction between the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of Health and Human Services, under applicable statutes and regulations…" (p.3&4)
Then, tossing our preconceived notions to the wind and looking to law instead, we find that congressional testimony of the FDA on establishing a single food safety agency and a myriad of other sources including the FAO (Food and Ag Organization of the UN), the FDA statements on the Bioterrorism Act of 2002, and many books on food law affirm that FDA has jurisdiction over live food animals:
"FDA is the Federal agency that regulates 80 percent of the nation’s food supply-everything we eat except for meat, poultry, and certain egg products, which are regulated by our partners at USDA. FDA’s responsibility extends to live food animals…"
So then what is the authority of the USDA? It is over agricultural disease, animals in the slaughter channel or transport, marketing (like grading of eggs and certification of processes) and the end product of many (but not all) food animals; meat. This is why NAIS always had to be "about disease" because the USDA couldn't run it otherwise! The exemption section on USDA regulated products is a dust up. Most people think the USDA has authority over live food animals, but it is the FDA after all. They surrender "cow, sheep or goat for milk production", but the FDA retains authority of the fluid milk and when the animal is no longer productive for milking, it's into the slaughter channel (under USDA) or out to pasture (back to FDA) anyway!
"Livestock and poultry that are intended to be presented for slaughter pursuant to the regulations by the Secretary of Agriculture under the Federal Meat Inspection Act or the Poultry Products Inspection Act are exempt from the requirements of this Act. A cow, sheep, or goat that is used for the production of milk is exempt from the requirements of this Act." (p.5 of HR2749)
HR 2749 is 160 pages (July 29 version) and contains the following references to international standards and guidelines (emphasis added for clarity) (all page numbers refer to the PDF file):
"(B) INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS.—In issuing guidance or regulations… the Secretary shall review international hazard analysis and preventive control standards that are in existence on the date of the enactment of this Act and relevant to such guidelines or regulations to ensure that the programs…..are consistent……with such standards." (p. 35)
"CONSISTENCY WITH INTERNATIONAL OBLIGATIONS.—The Secretary shall apply this paragraph consistently with United States obligations under international agreements." (p. 81)
"The Secretary shall issue regulations to ensure that any qualified certifying entity and its auditors are free from conflicts of interest. In issuing these regulations, the Secretary may rely on or incorporate international certification standards." (p. 82)
This means that there will be a layer of auditors, certifiers and inspectors over every aspect of food production in this country and that these inspectors and certifiers will be trained in ISO (International Standards Organization) management program certification. The ISO has been working with Codex Alimentarius on Food Safety Standards and, in particular, a technical standard for Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) which is a consortium of the seven largest food retailers in the world, and that is ISO22000:2005. All traceability (read NAIS) falls under the purview of Codex, the OIE (World Animal Health Organization) and the IPPC (International Plant Protection Convention) for global trade agreements. The following excerpt from HR 2749 shows the fully interoperable global network already in existence regarding food and its production:
"Development of such guidelines shall take into account the utilization of existing unique identification schemes and compatibility with customs automated systems, such as integration with the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) and the International Trade Data System (ITDS), and any successor systems." (p. 142)
So it is clear that international standards and guidelines are implicit in this legislation. Note the usage of the command form SHALL. This isn't a 'might', 'may' or in anyway a voluntary issue on the part of the Secretary. Then there is the section on Traceability. This is a code word in the National Animal Identification System and when one reads Sec.107 of this bill, it describes specific components of NAIS down to 48-hour trace-back, which cannot even be fantasized about with out individual animal identification.
"…..the Secretary shall issue regulations establishing a tracing system that enables the Secretary to identify each person who grows, produces, manufactures, processes, packs, transports, holds, or sells such food in as short a timeframe as practicable but no longer than 2 business days." [note that it says "grows"] (p. 70)
"……use a unique identifier for each facility owned or operated by such person for such purpose…"
(p. 69)
So we have PIN (Premises Identification Number) and 48-hour traceback harmonizing with international standards and guidelines along with this:
"….‘‘(C) COORDINATION REGARDING FARM IMPACT.—In issuing regulations under this paragraph that will impact farms, the Secretary ‘‘(i) shall coordinate with the Secretary of Agriculture; and ‘‘(ii) take into account the nature of the impact of the regulations on farms." (p. 71)
Now that I've killed you with legalese, it's time to let you find out just what these international standards and guidelines mean to those engaged in agriculture in this country.
“GOOD AGRICULTURAL PRACTICES”Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) are not a standard in and of themselves. They are a combination of standards and guidelines set forth by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. (FAO), through both the OIE (World Animal Health Organization) and Codex Alimentarius (Food Code) and IPPC to meet the certification and auditing side of the international trade aspects of the standards set forth. The OIE and Codex are charged with setting global standards and guidelines for the member countries of the WTO to meet and satisfy the SPS (Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary), TBT (Technical Barriers to Trade) and Equivalency agreements of the WTO for participation in international trade. Both the OIE and CODEX have guidelines for traceability that, with the passage of HR2749 into law, would be written into regulations governing all interstate commerce within the boundaries of the United States. The components of traceability are the pillars of NAIS that many of us have become so familiar with in the course of the battle over the past several years. Those being 1) Premises Identification 2) Animal Identification and 3) Animal Tracking. You can't have traceability under international standards without having those three components.
One of the main issues in the implementation of these standards and guidelines within a member nation of the WTO is that they must have a legal framework through which to regulate and enforce these guidelines and standards. HR 2749 would meet the criteria for that legal framework by way of the excerpts from the bill above.
In the OIE's "Guide to Good Farming Practices" the management of a livestock facility are clearly spelled out. Some of these recommendations that would become defacto law in the US under agency rule-making on passage of HR2749 (GGFP delineates international guidelines for food safety at the farm level) are:
- For each animal…Require and keep all commercial and health documents enabling their exact itinerary to be traced from their farm or establishment to their final destination…
- Keep a record of all persons entering the farm…..
- Keep medical certificates of persons working with the animals……
- Keep documents proving the water you give to the animals meets specific criteria
- Keep samples of all feed given to the animals
- Keep all documents from official inspections
- Keep records of treatment and procedures on all animals (castration, disbudding, calving, medications, etc.)
- Prevent domestic animals (cats and dogs) from roaming in and around livestock buildings
- Place all these documents at the disposal of the competent authority (Veterinary Services) when it conducts farm visits.
Some of the other guidelines and standards that would come into play after the implementation of traceability for all agricultural products would be : (from FAO COAG/17 "Development of a Framework for Good Agricultural Practices") "the adoption and implementation of international standards and codes for which Codex food safety standards and guidelines have been designed, and the associated capacity building, training, development and field implementation in the context of the different production systems and agro-ecozones. These include: Enhancing Food Quality and Safety by Strengthening Handling, Processing and Marketing in the Food Chain (214A9); Capacity Building and Risk Analysis Methodologies for Compliance with Food Safety Standards and Pesticide Control (215P1); Food Quality Control and Consumer Protection (221P5); Food Safety Assessment and Rapid Alert System (221P6); and Food Quality and Safety Throughout the Food Chain (221P8)."*
To be certified as meeting the requirements of "GAP", which is synonymous with being in compliance with international standards and guidelines, we can check out GlobalGAP.org. This is "the" certifying methodology for international trade in ag products. Here are a few excerpts from their 122-page general regulations booklet that has links to checklists for those who would be certifiers and auditors under the principles of GAP. This is an organization, not a governing body under WTO agreements, but working with nations and businesses to meet the criteria regarding these GAP practices for international trade. Here is a bare minimum of excerpts from their regulation document:
-(ii) Developing a Good Agricultural Practice (G.A.P.) framework for benchmarking existing assurance schemes and standards including traceability. (iii) Providing guidance for continuous improvement and the development and understanding of best practice. (iv) Establish a single, recognised framework for independent verification.
-Production Location: A production unit or group of production units, covered by the same ownership, operational procedures, farm management, and GLOBALGAP (EUREPGAP) decision-making activities.
-Within the context of GLOBALGAP (EUREPGAP) Integrated Farm Assurance this means tracing product from the producer’s immediate customer back to the producer and certified farm.
-Within the context of GLOBALGAP (EUREPGAP) Integrated Farm Assurance this means tracking product from the producer to his immediate customer.
In simple English, which appears to be highly lacking in all these guidelines, it means NAIS for everything, and for anyone who wishes to be engaged in agriculture….Remember the "grows" phrase from the earlier excerpt from HR2749. Now let's look at some of the 'exception' clauses in HR2749. This bill is a terrifically crafty piece of legislation that is designed to cloud the reader's understanding of the impact of the law being proposed in it. All of the exception clauses give the exception under this Act so long as you are ready to be regulated under a different Act. We'll just look at a couple of these clauses to allow you to get the gist of the lack of exception available through the exceptions….
“EXCEPTIONS”Farms- A farm is exempt from the requirements of this Act to the extent such farm raises animals from which food is derived that is regulated under the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Poultry Products Inspection Act, or the Egg Products Inspection Act.
‘‘(I) such an operation that packs or holds food, provided that all food used in such activities is grown, raised, or consumed on such farm or another farm under the same ownership;
‘‘(II) such an operation that manufactures or processes food, provided that all food used in such activities is consumed on such farm or another farm under the same ownership; (pages9 and10)
Thus, if you grow everything you feed and consume everything you grow, and use no minerals or salts that you don't mine yourself, you may be exempt. Or, in plain English, don't even try to make a living in agriculture if you won't comply with these rules.
One more exception to contend with here is:
‘(A) DIRECT SALES BY FARMS- Food is exempt from the requirements of this subsection if such food is--
‘(i) produced on a farm; and
‘(ii) sold by the owner, operator, or agent in charge of such farm directly to a consumer or to a restaurant or grocery store.
(page 71)
This sounds good. However, there are several problems with this that are not evident without some knowledge of how things are done in the traditional avenues open for market to growers. First of all, cattle, whom you may recall as the primary target of the NAIS Business Plan, are often sold either at auction barns or via potload to feedlots. It is illegal to sell beef directly from the farm to consumers in every state that I know of. People often will sell a calf ready to butcher in halves or quarters to people and deliver the calf to the slaughter facility for the consumer, but this is far from the normal route of commerce in cattle or other species of meat animal. Even if you can securely wedge your operation into this particular exemption, they get you later via the record keeping section of this bill:
‘(E) RECORDKEEPING REGARDING PREVIOUS SOURCES AND SUBSEQUENT RECIPIENTS- For a food or person covered by a limitation or exemption under subparagraph (B), (C), or (D), the Secretary shall require each person who produces, receives, manufactures, processes, packs, transports, distributes, or holds such food to maintain records to identify the immediate previous sources of such food and its ingredients and the immediate subsequent recipients of such food.
‘(F) RECORDKEEPING BY RESTAURANTS AND GROCERY STORES- For a food covered by an exemption under subparagraph (A), restaurants and grocery stores shall keep records documenting the farm that was the source of the food.‘(G) RECORDKEEPING BY FARMS- For a food covered by an exemption under subparagraph (A), farms shall keep records, in electronic or non-electronic format, for at least 6 months documenting the restaurant or grocery store to which the food was sold.’ (pp. 74-75)
So being exempt means you are required to keep records. Keeping required records means you could be required to release those records. So how exempt can a person get under this legislation? Especially when the slughter facilities will all be regulated unless the USDA already regulates them?
Then of course, as with any law, there are the fines and penalties. These are from $20,000 to $1,000,000 per violation. (p. 122)
There is also the change under the seizure section that takes away judicial overview…(double quotations indicate amending language)
…….procedure in cases under this section shall conform, as nearly as may be, to the procedure in admiralty; except that on demand of either party any issue of fact joined in any such case shall be tried by jury, ""and except that, with respect to proceedings relating to food, Rule G of the Supplemental Rules of Admiralty or Maritime Claims and Asset Forfeiture Actions shall not apply in any such case, exigent circumstances shall be deemed to exist for all seizures brought under this section, and the summons and arrest warrant shall be issued by the clerk of the court without court review in any such case""…… (p. 116)
So we can just throw out that pesky Fourth Amendment to the Constitution and while we're at it, let's get rid of probable cause as well via this wording from page 117:
by striking ‘‘credible evidence or information indicating’’ and inserting ‘‘reason to believe’’;There are many other dangerous aspects to HR 2749, like seizures, quarantines, and licensing and whistle blower provisions, but this should leave no doubt that this bill will indeed affect farms and has the potential to affect even home food production if an agency decides to apply the international risk analysis schemes to that venue. This bill opens a huge regulatory nightmare that is only evident when one knows what the international guidelines and standards consist of in regard to agriculture. Understanding those, it is highly unlikely that they will issue regulations that keep things as they are now.Now, the questions that everyone involved in agriculture, meaning everyone who eats, must ask themselves are these:
Can regulating, fining and destroying the freedom of people to grow food create food safety?
Have the impacts of so-called “Free Trade” on this nation been beneficial for the citizens of this country?
Have food safety concerns increased or decreased since we have begun to import more food under these trade agreements?
And ultimately, does the US Constitution provide for the voidance of the Bill of Rights to participate in global trade?
My copy of the Constitution clearly does not allow for any law to void the Bill of Rights which is unalienable and Constitutionally guaranteed. It's time to let our Federal representatives know in no uncertain terms, that everything to do with governance ultimately comes down to the consent of the governed, and we will not consent to being run by international agencies.
My deep thanks to Paul Griepentrog, who helped in going through the legislation and many of the ramifications and amendments to current law under this Act.
Codex Threatens Health of Billions
Thursday, July 30, 2009 by: Barbara L. Minton
(NaturalNews) Your right to eat healthy food and use supplements of your choice is rapidly vanishing, but every effort has been made to keep you in the dark about the coming nutricide. Codex Alimentarius is scheduled for full global implementation on December 31, 2009, and not a word has been spoken in main stream media about this threat to humanity. Yet, according to the projections based on figures from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), a minimum of 3 billion people will die from the Codex mandated vitamin and mineral guideline alone.
Former Nazi is father of contemporary Codex
Codex is the enemy of everyone except those who will profit from it. Codex has an association with those who committed crimes during the Nazi regime. At the end of World War II, the Nuremberg tribunal judged Nazis who had committed horrendous crimes against humanity and sentenced them to prison terms. One of those found guilty was the president of the megalithic corporation I.G. Farben, Hermann Schmitz. His company was the largest chemical manufacturing enterprise in the world, and had extraordinary political and economic power and influence with the Hitlerian Nazi state. Farben produced the gas used in the Nazi gas chambers, and the steel for the railroads built to transport people to their deaths.
While serving his prison term, Schmitz looked for an alternative to brute force for controlling people and realized that people could be controlled through their food supply. When he got out of prison, he went to his friends at the United Nations (UN) and laid out a plan to take over the control of food worldwide. A trade commission called Codex Alimentarius (Latin for food code) was re-created under the guise of it being a consumer protection commission. But Codex was never in the business of protecting people. It has always been about money and profits at the expense of people.
In 1962, the timetable was set for Codex to be fully implemented on a global level by December 31, 2009. Under Codex, committees were established to create guidelines on such topics as fish and fisheries, fats and oils, fruits and vegetables, ground nuts, nutrition, food for specialized uses, and vitamins and minerals. There were 27 committees in all, creating a huge bureaucracy. Under Codex there are over 4,000 guidelines and regulations on everything that can be put into your mouth with the exception of pharmaceuticals which are not regulated by Codex.
Codex is a weapon being used to reduce the level of nutrition worldwide
Codex is an industry dominated regulation setting organization, and as such has no legal standing. Participation in Codex is said to be voluntary. But Codex has risen to the level of de facto legal standing because Codex is administered by the WHO and FAO. They fund it and run it at the request of the UN. Since the WHO and FAO are supposed to be about health, there is conflict of interest. The committees of Codex work up guidelines, rules and regulations, and present them to a Codex commission for ratification. Once they are ratified and approved by consensus, they become mandatory standards for any country that is a member of the WHO.
Codex was accepted when the WTO was formed in 1994 as a means of harmonizing food standards globally for easy trade between countries. As a result, countries must harmonize with Codex if they want to have any standing in a trade dispute. When disputes arise and countries are pulled in to WTO, the one that is Codex compliant automatically wins, regardless of the merits of its case.
Codex has become a weapon to make every nation scurry to become compliant to its mandated decline in nutritional standards. Compliance in the U.S. will mark the end of its consumer protection laws. Codex will not serve consumers. Codex will serve the interests of the medical, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, chemical, and big agricultural industries.
Under Codex, nutrients are classified as poisons
The Dietary Substances Health and Education Act (DSHEA), was signed into law in 1994 for the purpose of ensuring that safe and appropriately labeled products would remain available to those who wanted to use them. In the findings associated with this law, Congress stated that there may be a positive relationship between sound dietary practice and good health, and a connection between dietary supplement use, reduced health-care expenses, and disease prevention. Under DSHEA, nutrients and herbs are classified as food. There is no upper limit set, and access is freely given. Americans are allowed to have any nutrients they want, because under English common law, anything that is not expressly forbidden is permitted.
Codex, on the other hand, is based on Napoleonic law and is much more restrictive. In 1994, the same year DSHEA was signed, Codex had nutrients declared to be toxic and poisonous. And as poisons, they claimed people must be protected from them through the use of toxicology and risk assessment, under which scientists test small doses on animals until they are able to discern an impact. They then take the first sign of the most minimal impact and divide this amount by 100 to establish a safety margin required from these poisons. This means that the largest dose of any nutrient allowed under Codex is 1/100th of the amount shown to produce the first discernable impact.
Nutrients allowed under Codex are limited to those on the positive list, expected to contain only 18 nutrients, one of them being fluoride. Although fluoride has no biological benefit whatsoever, it does make people complacent.
The Codex proponents now have several bills before Congress designed to overturn and get rid of DSHEA. Once this is accomplished, the U.S. will have been harmonized with the vitamin and mineral guidelines of codex. High potency, therapeutically effective, significant nutrients will then be illegal in the way that heroin is illegal. They will not even be available by prescription.
Codex supports toxic food additives, pesticides and GM foods
Codex poses a significant threat to the food supply, according to Dr. Robert Verkerk, founder and director of the Alliance for Natural Health. About 300 dangerous food additives that are mainly synthetic will be allowed under Codex, including aspartame, BHA, BHT, potassium bromate, tartrazine, and more. Dr. Verkerk is particularly concerned that no consideration has been given to potential risks associated with long-term exposure to mixtures of additives.
Codex sets limits for the dangerous industrial chemicals that can be used in food, but they are incredibly high, and the list of chemicals that can be used is long. In 2001, 176 countries including the U.S. got together and decided that 12 highly toxic organic chemicals, known as persistent organic pollutants (POPS), were so bad that they had to be banned. There are many more than 12 toxic chemicals used on food, but these 12 were unanimously declared to be the worst. Of these, 9 are pesticides.
Under Codex, 7 of the 9 forbidden POPS will again be allowed in the production of food. All together, Codex allows over 3,275 different pesticides, including those that are suspected carcinogens or endocrine disrupters. There is no consideration of the long-term effects of exposure to mixtures of pesticide residues in food.
Organic food governance will be dumbed down to suit the interests of large food producers. Various synthetic chemical additives and processing aids will be allowed, and food labeled as organic may be irradiated. Labeling will permit the use of hidden, non-organic ingredients.
Monsanto, a member of Codex, will benefit greatly as production of genetically modified (GM) foods are stepped up and more GM plants are given the green light. Terminator seeds will be approved for international trade. GM food animals will also be on the way.
Under Codex, every dairy animal can be treated with growth hormone, and all animals in the food chain will be treated with sub-clinical levels of antibiotics. Codex will lead to the required irradiation of all foods with the exception of those grown locally and sold raw.
Codex is food regulations that are in fact the legalization of mandated toxicity and under-nutrition. Of the 3 billion people initially expected to die as the result of the Codex vitamin and mineral guidelines, 2 billion of them will die from the preventable diseases that result from under-nutrition, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and many others. Those who will live will be the wealthy elites who are able to somehow provide themselves with sources of clean food and other nutrients.
Codex is legalized genocide
Dr. Gregory Damato, Ph.D., writing for Natural News, has characterized Codex as "population control for money". He sees Codex as run by the U.S. and controlled by the big pharmaceutical corporations and the likes of Monsanto with the purpose of reducing the population of the world to a level considered sustainable by those promulgating the New World Order. This would mean a reduction of approximately 93 percent of the current world population.
Once Codex standards are adopted there will be no turning back. When Codex compliance is instigated in any area, as long as the country remains a member of the WTO, those standards cannot be repealed, or altered in any way.
The time for modifying Codex guidelines is rapidly disappearing
Some hope remains. Over the years, the WTO has accepted Codex standards as presumptive evidence of the rules of trade between countries. However, several times in history, the WTO has refused to make Codex the single and only standard to be used in trade disputes. Under Codex`s own statutes, their guidelines are claimed to be "advisory", and nations are able to set up their own guidelines as long as they are more restrictive than those of Codex.
Since compliance with Codex standards is simply presumptive evidence, and not finally determinative, a nation can opt out of the guidelines in an effort to protect its traditional foods and remedies. The Codex two step process is a legal strategy developed to help nations wanting to do this. Under step one, the country develops its own food and health guidelines that may be at variance with Codex guidelines. For example, it may be much stricter on the issues of toxins in the food supply or on the issue of genetically modified foods. It may require, for example, that companies using GM ingredients be required to indicate them on food labels. In countries that refuse to use GM foods, this can be indicated on their label too, so that people can make informed choices. The second step is to adopt a national law that implements those guidelines on a sound scientific basis.
Normally, in a trade dispute before the WTO, the country that has adopted Codex guidelines will be the winner of that dispute based on those guidelines being presumptive evidence. However, when countries have gone through the two step process to create their own guidelines, there is no such presumption, and the WTO will look at the science behind the guidelines.
In the U.S. the door is open to Codex
In 1995, the FDA issued a policy statement saying that international standards such as Codex would supersede U.S. laws governing all food. Under the Central American Free Trade Agreement, which is illegal under current U.S. law, but is legal under international law, the U.S. is required to conform to Codex as it stands on December 31, 2009, unless it creates its own guidelines and gets them approved under the two step process. Given current government sentiment, this seems unlikely. Besides, as guidelines are one-by-one chiseled into standards, time is running out.
You're Appointing Who? Please Obama, Say It's Not So!Jeffrey Smith
Posted: July 23, 2009
The person who may be responsible for more food-related illness and death than anyone in history has just been made the US food safety czar. This is no joke.
Here's the back story.When FDA scientists were asked to weigh in on what was to become the most radical and potentially dangerous change in our food supply -- the introduction of genetically modified (GM) foods -- secret documents now reveal that the experts were very concerned. Memo after memo described toxins, new diseases, nutritional deficiencies, and hard-to-detect allergens. They were adamant that the technology carried "serious health hazards," and required careful, long-term research, including human studies, before any genetically modified organisms (GMOs) could be safely released into the food supply.
But the biotech industry had rigged the game so that neither science nor scientists would stand in their way. They had placed their own man in charge of FDA policy and he wasn't going to be swayed by feeble arguments related to food safety. No, he was going to do what corporations had done for decades to get past these types of pesky concerns. He was going to lie.Dangerous Food Safety LiesWhen the FDA was constructing their GMO policy in 1991-2, their scientists were clear that gene-sliced foods were significantly different and could lead to "different risks" than conventional foods. But official policy declared the opposite, claiming that the FDA knew nothing of significant differences, and declared GMOs substantially equivalent.
This fiction became the rationale for allowing GM foods on the market without any required safety studies whatsoever! The determination of whether GM foods were safe to eat was placed entirely in the hands of the companies that made them -- companies like Monsanto, which told us that the PCBs, DDT, and Agent Orange were safe.
GMOs were rushed onto our plates in 1996. Over the next nine years, multiple chronic illnesses in the US nearly doubled -- from 7% to 13%. Allergy-related emergency room visits doubled between 1997 and 2002 while food allergies, especially among children, skyrocketed. We also witnessed a dramatic rise in asthma, autism, obesity, diabetes, digestive disorders, and certain cancers.
In January of this year, Dr. P. M. Bhargava, one of the world's top biologists, told me that after reviewing 600 scientific journals, he concluded that the GM foods in the US are largely responsible for the increase in many serious diseases.
In May, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine concluded that animal studies have demonstrated a causal relationship between GM foods and infertility, accelerated aging, dysfunctional insulin regulation, changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system, and immune problems such as asthma, allergies, and inflammation
In July, a report by eight international experts determined that the flimsy and superficial evaluations of GMOs by both regulators and GM companies "systematically overlook the side effects" and significantly underestimate "the initial signs of diseases like cancer and diseases of the hormonal, immune, nervous and reproductive systems, among others."
The Fox Guarding the ChickensIf GMOs are indeed responsible for massive sickness and death, then the individual who oversaw the FDA policy that facilitated their introduction holds a uniquely infamous role in human history. That person is Michael Taylor. He had been Monsanto's attorney before becoming policy chief at the FDA. Soon after, he became Monsanto's vice president and chief lobbyist.
This month Michael Taylor became the senior advisor to the commissioner of the FDA. He is now America's food safety czar. What have we done?
The Milk Man ComethWhile Taylor was at the FDA in the early 90's, he also oversaw the policy regarding Monsanto's genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rbGH/rbST) -- injected into cows to increase milk supply.
The milk from injected cows has more pus, more antibiotics, more bovine growth hormone, and most importantly, more insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). IGF-1 is a huge risk factor for common cancers and its high levels in this drugged milk is why so many medical organizations and hospitals have taken stands against rbGH. A former Monsanto scientist told me that when three of his Monsanto colleagues evaluated rbGH safety and discovered the elevated IGF-1 levels, even they refused to drink any more milk -- unless it was organic and therefore untreated.
Government scientists from Canada evaluated the FDA's approval of rbGH and concluded that it was a dangerous facade. The drug was banned in Canada, as well as Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. But it was approved in the US while Michael Taylor was in charge. His drugged milk might have caused a significant rise in US cancer rates. Additional published evidence also implicates rbGH in the high rate of fraternal twins in the US.
Taylor also determined that milk from injected cows did not require any special labeling. And as a gift to his future employer Monsanto, he wrote a white paper suggesting that if companies ever had the audacity to label their products as not using rbGH, they should also include a disclaimer stating that according to the FDA, there is no difference between milk from treated and untreated cows.
Taylor's disclaimer was also a lie. Monsanto's own studies and FDA scientists officially acknowledged differences in the drugged milk. No matter. Monsanto used Taylor's white paper as the basis to successfully sue dairies that labeled their products as rbGH-free.
Will Monsanto's Wolff Also Guard the Chickens?As consumers learned that rbGH was dangerous, they refused to buy the milk. To keep their customers, a tidal wave of companies has publicly committed to not use the drug and to label their products as such. Monsanto tried unsuccessfully to convince the FDA and FTC to make it illegal for dairies to make rbGH-free claims, so they went to their special friend in Pennsylvania -- Dennis Wolff. As state secretary of agriculture, Wolff unilaterally declared that labeling products rbGH-free was illegal, and that all such labels must be removed from shelves statewide. This would, of course, eliminate the label from all national brands, as they couldn't afford to create separate packaging for just one state.
Fortunately, consumer demand forced Pennsylvania's Governor Ed Rendell to step in and stop Wolff's madness. But Rendell allowed Wolff to take a compromised position that now requires rbGH-free claims to also be accompanied by Taylor's FDA disclaimer on the package.
President Obama is considering Dennis Wolff for the top food safety post at the USDA. Yikes!
Rumor has it that the reason why Pennsylvania's governor is supporting Wolff's appointment is to get him out of the state -- after he "screwed up so badly" with the rbGH decision. Oh great, governor. Thanks.
Ohio Governor Gets Taylor-itusOhio not only followed Pennsylvania's lead by requiring Taylor's FDA disclaimer on packaging, they went a step further. They declared that dairies must place that disclaimer on the same panel where rbGH-free claims are made, and even dictated the font size. This would force national brands to re-design their labels and may ultimately dissuade them from making rbGH-free claims at all. The Organic Trade Association and the International Dairy Foods Association filed a lawsuit against Ohio. Although they lost the first court battle, upon appeal, the judge ordered a mediation session that takes place today. Thousands of Ohio citizens have flooded Governor Strickland's office with urgent requests to withdraw the states anti-consumer labeling requirements.
Perhaps the governor has an ulterior motive for pushing his new rules. If he goes ahead with his labeling plans, he might end up with a top appointment in the Obama administration.
The Real Crisis Is Food: Beginning of the Bull for Agricultureby: Graham Summers
June 22, 2009
The real crisis is coming… and it’s coming fast.
Indeed, it started last year, almost entirely off the radar of the American public. While all eyes were glued to the carnage in the stock market and brokerage account balances, a far more serious crisis began to unfold rocking 30 countries around the globe.
I’m talking about food shortages.
Aside from a few rice shortages that were induced by export restrictions in Asia, food received little or no coverage from the financial media in 2008. Yet, food shortages started riots in over 30 countries worldwide. In Egypt people were actually stabbing each other while standing in line for bread.
The developed world, most notably the US, has been relatively immune to these developments. For us, gas hitting $4 a gallon was a bigger deal than any hike in food prices. But for much of the developing world, in which food and basic expenses consume 50% of incomes, any rise in food prices can have catastrophic consequences.
And that’s not to say that food shortages can’t hit the developed world either.
According to Mark McLoran of Agro-Terra, the Earth’s population is currently growing by 70-80 million people per year. Between 2000 and 2012, the earth’s population will jump from six billion to seven billion. We’re expected to add another billion people by 2024. So demand for food is growing… and it’s growing fast.
However, supply is falling. Up until the 1960s, mankind dealt with increased food demand by increasing farmland. However, starting in the ‘60s we began trying to meet demand by increasing yield via fertilizers, irrigation, and better seed. It worked for a while (McLoran notes that between 1975 and 1986 yields for wheat and rice rose 32% and 51% respectively).
However, in the last two decades, these techniques have stopped producing increased yields due to their deleterious effects: you can’t spray fertilizer and irrigate fields ad infinitum without damaging the land, which reduces yields. McLoran points out that from 1970 to 1990, global average aggregate yield grew by 2.2% a year. It has since declined to only 1.1% a year. And it’s expected to fall even further this decade.
Thus, since the ‘60s we’ve added roughly three billion people to the planet. But we’ve actually seen a decrease in food output. Indeed, worldwide arable land per person has essentially halved from 0.42 hectares per person in 1961 to 0.23 hectares per person in 2002.
It’s also worth noting that diets have changed dramatically in the last 30 years.
For example, in 1985 the average Chinese consumer ate 44 pounds of meat per year. Today, it’s more than doubled to 110 pounds. That in of itself is impressive, but when you consider that it takes 17 pounds of grain to generate one pound of beef, you begin to see how grain demand can rise exponentially to population growth with even modest changes to diet.
It also helps explain why stocks-to-use for wheat and corn are now at their lowest levels in 30+ years.
If you’re unfamiliar with stocks-to-use ratios, they are used to determine the amount of food carried over in excess of current demand. Measured as a percentage of demand (so if stocks-to-use is 16%, the total worldwide stocks is currently 116% of demand), stocks-to-use are a good measure of how much extra food we’ve got left over after demand.
Currently the stocks-to-use ratios for corn and wheat are 17% and 23% respectively. On the surface, this sounds like we’ve got a lot of extra food lying around. But you’d be very mistaken to think that: remember a stocks-to-use of 0% would indicate we’re producing just enough food to meet demand in real time. At that point, one bad harvest and people start starving.
Now, stocks-to-use usually runs inverse to price (if supply goes lower, prices rise). And stocks-to-use for wheat and corn are at their lowest levels since the ‘70s. At that time, grains prices were more than three times as high as they are now.
Make no mistake, agriculture is at the beginning of a major multi-year bull market. We’ve got rapidly growing demand, reduced production, and decade low inventories. I can’t tell you when prices will begin to spike (timing is especially difficult given the degree of financial speculation in commodities), but at some point in the not-so-distant future, food prices will go up… WAY up.
I’ll detail how to profit from this trend in tomorrow’s essay. Until then…
Good Investing!
Obama's EPA to Institute Oppressive Tax and Control Plan for FarmersBy NWV News writer Jim Kouri
June 14, 2009
© 2009 NewsWithViews.com
The recent Environmental Protection Agency's plan to initiate a so-called greenhouse gas tax on privately owned dairy farms and livestock has farmers up in arms.
According to a segment on the Glenn Beck Show on Fox News Channel, the EPA will institute new rules and regulations to control greenhouse emissions by farm animals. During this tough economic time, it is unfair and irresponsible to levy such a tax on family farms, according to conservatives.
Under Title V of the Clean Air Act, farmers would pay a hefty permit fee for animals that emit 100 tons of greenhouse gasses annually, affecting the vast majority of the nation's livestock operations.
Any farm with more than 25 dairy cows, 50 beef cattle or 200 hogs would have to obtain a permit to operate, which, according to the United State Department of Agriculture, would cover 99 percent of New York dairy production, 95 percent of its hog production and 90 percent of beef production.
According to one organization, the New York Farm Bureau, the new permits would cost farmers well over $110 million a year, dramatically impacting the agricultural sector and economy. The tax is estimated at $175 per dairy cow, $87.50 per head of beef cattle and $20 per hog. The added financial burden on already-struggling farmers could force many family farms out of business and lead to a raise in food prices.
While greenhouse gas contributes to global warming -- according to some scientists and liberal-left politicians -- not all emissions are equal. Under this federal proposal, livestock is held as accountable as the industrial and transportation sectors, which is simply illogical. That's essentially saying that a living. Breathing cow is as detrimental to the environment as a coal-powered machine.
"The Obama Administration and the EPA officials fail to understand how important family farms are to our upstate rural communities. I don't support any tax that hurts farms and I am appalled with this permit requirement which could shut down our agricultural sector, causing catastrophic consequences the American economy," said political strategist Mike Baker.
"I would advise Americans to buy skis because we are in the precipice of a very slippery slope. The federal government will now begin to dictate what farmers may own and what they must do to keep what they own. In a bad economy, is that the plan of a sane administration?" adds Baker.
"Control the food production and you can control the people. What they are doing is creating starvation of Biblical proportions," said a farmer who wished to remain anonymous.
US Department of Agriculture statistics indicate that the permit requirement and tax would include 99 percent of milk production, more than 90 percent of beef production and more than 95 percent of all hog production in the United States.
In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency has told Maryland's poultry farmers it intends to enforce for the first time federal pollution rules governing chicken manure -- a crackdown that has surprised and angered growers while pleasing environmentalists who've long complained about agricultural runoff fouling
At meetings between EPA officials and farm associations, attendees were told that hundreds of farmers must get federal pollution-discharge permits if any manure from their flocks are washing off their land into drainage ditches and streams. More than half of the state's 800 poultry farmers have filed notices to get the permits, state officials say, but most observers are not confident of being successful unless the case goes to the US Supreme Court and before President Obama has an opportunity to nominate more leftist SCOTUS justices.
The federal permits are tougher in key respects than what Maryland has so far been unable to establish for its poultry farmers. State regulations and permit requirements developed last year to cover about 200 of the largest chicken farms are on hold because of appeals filed both by environmentalists and farmers.
On Friday, June 12, the EPA extended the compliance date for all facilities and established a new compliance date for farms subject to the oil Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures (SPCC) regulations.
"This final rule is part of EPA’s multi-phased strategy to address concerns with the SPCC regulation. Specifically, this SPCC rule amendment extends the dates by which the owner or operator of an SPCC regulated facility or farm must prepare or amend and implement an SPCC plan to November 10, 2010.
"These amendments do not remove any regulatory requirement for owners or operators of facilities in operation before August 16, 2002, to maintain and implement SPCC plans in accordance with the SPCC regulations then in effect. Such facilities are required to maintain their plans until the applicable date for revising and implementing their plans under the new amendments," according to a notice sent to farmers and farm associations.
Many Washington lawmakers, however, on both sides of the isle view this latest EPA move as a negative plan of action.
For example, New York's Democrat Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's office told the Washington Times editorial page writers that she stands behind her position from December of 2008, which is that "individuals should not be taxed for methane emissions coming from their farms."
While in the House of Representatives, Sen. Gillibrand -- who recently was appointed a Senator to fill the seat left by Hillary Clinton -- served on the Agricultural Committee. When asked about the EPA plan to tax animal flatulence, then New York Representative Kirsten Gillibrand, on the House Agriculture Committee, said, "[T]he whole idea stinks."
"The first thing I'm going to do is call the chairman of our Agriculture Committee and talk to him about this and how it's upset my farmers and ask him how quickly we can get this done," she said.
The Farm Bureau is urging farmers to contact their federally elected officials to express support for the bills to protect livestock agriculture from what they consider an oppressive tax. The numbers for the bills are H.R. 1426 in the House, and S. 527 in the US Senate.
Farm Bureau and conservative activists believe this tax will increase the price of meat -- beef and pork products -- and poultry. In addition, the price of eggs and milk will increase to cover losses that result from high taxation.
"This is just another tax on farmers, who already have to pay exorbitant property taxes, payroll taxes, and more. And they will of a necessity pass on those additional business costs to the consumers -- that's you and me," said retired New York University economist Sol Weintraub.
"A farm tax during a severe economic recession doesn't make sense to me. Even during good times, it's a bad move by an already inflated government bureaucracy," said Dr. Weintraub.
Ginger, Turmeric, Neem Declared "Hazardous" in Thailand After Chemical Companies Try to Protect Pesticide Profits
Tuesday, April 07, 2009 by: David Gutierrez
(NaturalNews) The government of Thailand has classified 13 plants - traditionally used as herbal medicines and natural pesticides - as "hazardous substances," causing outrage among farmers and advocates of traditional medicine.
The plants - including ginger, turmeric, neem and chili - have been classified by the Industry Ministry as "hazardous substances type 1," requiring all manufacturers, growers, importers or exporters of any products made from the plants to follow strict safety and quality control rules or face up to six months in jail and a 50,000 baht ($1,400) fine.
Farmers' groups have objected to the new rules as an unfair burden on organic farmers, who will now have to pay more for the registration, packaging and testing of non-synthetic pesticides. They have also objected that the list was developed without any consultation of farmers who would be affected.
"The government keeps promoting organic farming and reduction of chemical use," said Tussanee Verakan, coordinator of the Alternative Agriculture Network. "Why did they put such heavy restrictions on organic substances which are the heart of organic farming?"
Witoon Lianchamroon of the organic farming nonprofit Biothai said he suspects that the move is intended to benefit chemical companies by putting obstacles in the path of those who would otherwise prefer natural alternatives. Because natural pesticides are less toxic and substantially cheaper than imported chemical pesticides, recent years have seen large numbers of Thai farmers abandoning chemical products.
"Instead of tightening controls on these farmer-friendly herbal plants, the committee should crack down on multinational companies who exploit Thai farmers by luring them into buying their highly toxic and costly products," Witoon said.
Alternative medicine practitioners have also reacted angrily to the decision. According to Prapot Paetrakas, deputy director-general of the Department for Development of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine, all 13 newly regulated plants are central to the practice of traditional Thai medicine.
Sources for this story include: www.bangkokpost.com.
Say Goodbye to Farmers Markets, CSAs, and Roadside Stands
Dr. Mercola
March 28 2009
U.S. "food safety" bills currently under consideration were written by Monsanto, Cargill, Tyson’s and ADM. All of them are associated with the opposite of food safety. Organic food and a rebirth of farming have been winning -- not in absolute numbers, but in a growing shift by the public toward understanding the connection between their food and their health.
Farmers markets, local farmers, real milk, fresh eggs and vegetable stands threaten the corporations, which is why there are now massive "fake food safety" bills in Congress. They set standards for "food safety" that are so grotesquely and inappropriately applied to local, independent farmers and ranchers that there is no way they can manage. Imagine a tiny business being faced with a 100-page IRS form and facing a million dollar a day penalty for a mistake; that would be similar to the impossible complexity facing small farmers.
The bills would require such a burdensome complexity of rules, inspections, licensing, fees, and penalties for each farmer who wishes to sell locally -- even a fruit stand at a farmers market -- that no one could manage it.
Sources: Op Ed News March 3, 2009
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
Increasing numbers of people are reverting back to the ways of our ancestors, choosing to purchase food directly from local farmers -- who generally apply organic farming practices -- and cooking it using slow, traditional methods.
Major food corporations like Monsanto and Tyson do not like this trend because they are in the business of mass food production, which relies on much newer and often dangerous techniques like genetic engineering, factory farming and widespread use of chemicals.
Well, similar to how Codex is slowly but surely shimmying into position to mandate the universal maximum “safe” level of every vitamin, mineral, supplement and herb -- and in so doing taking away your access to therapeutic dosages of supplements -- numerous food “safety” bills are also underway that threaten the very safety of food, along with those who grow it.
This has been going on for some time now.
How Food Quality is Being Threatened by U.S. Government and Big BusinessWhen speaking of food safety, the giant food corporations and government are really one in the same. It’s sad to say, but industrial agriculture lobbyists wield incredible power in Congress.
Their relatively minor investments allow them to manipulate votes on key legislation that is highly favorable to their bottom line and almost always in conflict with your best interests. Some key rulings that have seriously undermined food quality?
• Just last year the U.S. government decided to allow food producers to irradiate fresh spinach and iceberg lettuce in order to kill organisms like E. coli and salmonella, but at the expense of nutrients.
• Federal regulation prohibits raw milk and raw milk products for human consumption in interstate commerce, despite the fact that they have proven health benefits.
• Small farmers often cannot afford the costly organic certification process required by the government. Yet, if they try to sell foods that are raised according to organic standards, but not certified as such, they can be fined or sent to jail.
• The food crops currently subsidized by the U.S. government are corn, wheat, soy and rice. Growing little else but corn and soy means we end up with a fast food diet. In essence, these commodity programs are subsidies for the creation of junk and fast food, not REAL food that could have a positive impact on public health.
Unfortunately, a handful of food “safety” bills that are in Congress’ hands right now, namely HR 875, HR 814, SR 425, and soon, HR 759, include similarly destructive plans that will only continue to further degrade the food supply, favor agribusiness, and make it more difficult for small farmers to compete.
How to Make Your Opinion HeardIf you’d like to speak out against these food “safety” bills, you can send a message to members of Congress or your local newspaper using this link.
There is another way your voice can be heard as well, and that is speaking with your wallet. Use your money to support the small farms, farmer’s markets, vegetable stands and food coops that are still growing food using wholesome, natural methods. You can still find healthy food using the sources that follow, and you can also view this list for an expanded list of healthy food resources near you.
1. Alternative Farming Systems Information Center, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
2. Farmers' Markets -- A national listing of farmers' markets.
3. Local Harvest -- This Web site will help you find farmers' markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies.
4. Eat Well Guide: Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals -- The Eat Well Guide is a free online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs from farms, stores, restaurants, inns, and hotels, and online outlets in the United States and Canada.
5. Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) -- CISA is dedicated to sustaining agriculture and promoting the products of small farms.
6. FoodRoutes -- The FoodRoutes “Find Good Food” map can help you connect with local farmers to find the freshest, tastiest food possible. On their interactive map, you can find a listing for local farmers, CSA's, and markets near you.
Related Links:The Food Industry Challenges That Obama Needs to Address
The Future of Food -- You NEED to Watch This Video!!!
Some Small Farmers Are Going To Jail -- To Spite the System
Will Congress Wipe Out Home Gardens, Growers Markets?By Sarah Foster
March 23, 2009
© NewsWithViews.com
The Internet’s buzzing about a bill in Congress its sponsor and supporters say is vital for protecting consumers from food-borne illnesses, but critics claim would place all U.S. food production “from farm to fork” under control of federal bureaucrats, effectively destroying family farms and farmers markets in the process and hijacking the burgeoning organic food movement.
“This bill will not just sweep up commercial food operations,” warns Tom DeWeese, who heads the American Policy Center in Virginia, in a Sledgehammer Alert, “[It] will subject hobby gardeners, home canners, anyone with a few chickens, or anyone who ‘holds, stores, or transports food’ … to registration, extensive management, and inspection by a huge new bureaucracy, the Food Safety Administration, even if the food items will only be consumed personally.”
“The truly chilling language lays out civil and criminal penalties of up to $1 million per day, per infraction, and imprisonment of five or 10 years, or both, depending how serious the violation(s),” De Weese adds, characterizing the bill as “over-the-top in its overreach.”
Particularly attention grabbing: the bill would bring in the National Animal ID System through the back door, opponents claim.
Introduced Feb. 4 by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), in the middle of the peanut-product recall, the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 (HR 875) was assigned to both the House Committee on Agriculture and the Energy and Commerce Committee. It has 41 co-sponsors. Although not yet scheduled for a hearing, proponents have been forced into damage control mode because of public outrage coming from a politically diverse opposition.
Spokesperson in DeLauro’s office offer assurances: “The bill does not apply to vendors at farmers markets, and therefore will not change the way this business runs. It is meant to address food sold in supermarkets.”
The non-profit Food and Water Watch weighs in: “There is no language in the bill that would result in farmers markets being regulated, penalized by any fines or shut down. Farmers markets would be able to continue to flourish under the bill. In fact, the bill would insist that unsafe imported foods are not competing with locally grown foods.”
A “Major Threat” to Local FoodBut in an extensive analysis the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund – a DC-based advocacy group that champions locally grown and organic food production – foresees HR 875 fueling “a tremendous expansion of federal power, particularly the power to regulate intrastate commerce” and warns:
“While the proposed legislation tries to address the many problems of the industrial food system, the impact on small farms if the bill becomes law would be substantial and not for the better HR 875 is a major threat to sustainable farming and the local food movement.” [Emphasis added]
If enacted, there would be a reshuffling within the Department of Health and Human Services. The Food and Drug Administration, a division of HHS, would be split into two agencies – one to deal with food, the other with drugs and medical devices. This second agency would be titled the Federal Drug and Device Administration and keep the acronym FDA.
Food-safety functions would be transferred to a new Food Safety Administration, headed by a food tsar (Administrator of Food Safety) appointed by the President for a five-year term, with Senate approval. The Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) and the Center for Veterinary Medicine – both presently part of the FDA -- would move into the new Food Safety Administration, along with the National Marine Fisheries Service from the Department of Commerce.
That’s for starters.
The shakeup at Health and Human Services would be accompanied by tremendous expansion of federal regulatory power over the nation’s food producers, with mandated surveillance and monitoring of all farming, processing, transporting, and selling operations. The new agency is to “modernize and strengthen Federal food safety law,” making certain that food establishments are able to guarantee “that all stages of production, processing, and distribution of their products under their control satisfy the requirements of this law.”
The food tsar is tasked with developing and implementing a national food safety program, one that can ensure “that persons who produce, process, or distribute food meet their responsibility to prevent or minimize food safety hazards related to their products.”
This nationwide program is to be based on a “comprehensive analysis” of “hazards” – including identification of “the sources of potentially hazardous contamination or practices extending from the farm or ranch to the consumer that may increase the risk of food-borne illness.” The Administrator will also set up a national system for the registration of food establishments and foreign food establishments.
Defenders of H.R. 875 insist it wouldn’t overburden small farming operations; that the law is aimed at “Food establishments” – facilities where food is actually processed and packaged, where food-borne illnesses begin. Indeed, there’s a subsection under “Definitions” (Section 3) that at first reading appears would exclude farms from the onerous regulatory provisions of the law. Specifically:
“(13) FOOD ESTABLISHMENT (A) The term ‘food establishment’ means a slaughterhouse (except those regulated under the Federal Meat Inspection Act or the Poultry Products Inspection Act), factory, warehouse, or facility owned or operated by a person located in any State that processes food or a facility that holds, stores, or transports food or food ingredients.
“(B) EXCLUSIONS: For the purposes of registration, the term ‘food establishment’ does not include a food production facility as defined in paragraph (14), other retail food establishments, …
“(14) FOOD PRODUCTION FACILITY – The term “food production facility” means any farm, ranch, orchard, vineyard, aquaculture facility, or confined animal-feeding operation.”
The devil’s in the details, and these are in Section 206 which deals with Food Production Facilities. According to FTCLDF, the only thing farms and the other food production facilities don’t have to do is register with the FSA as food establishments must. The agency has sweeping powers to regulate farming practices, and is directed to issue regulations establishing “minimum standards related to fertilizer use, nutrients, hygiene, packaging, temperature controls, animal encroachment, and water.”
“The Feds would control to a much greater degree the inputs farmers can use as well as the products farmers can produce (raw milk). Unannounced federal inspections of small farms will be the order of the day, reducing the level of protection provided by the Fourth Amendment.”
Here’s a taste of what farmers and other food producers can expect from H.R. 875 if it becomes law:
• Each food production facility – no matter how small – would have to have a written food-safety plan describing “the likely hazards and preventive controls implemented to address those hazards.”
• Farmers selling directors to consumers would have to make their customer list available to federal inspectors.
Federal inspectors would be authorized to:
• inspect food production facilities to make sure the producer is “operating in compliance with the requirements of the food safety law;”
• conduct “monitoring and surveillance of animals, plants, products, or the environment, as appropriate;”
• access and copy all records to determine if food is “contaminated, adulterated, or otherwise not in compliance with the food safety law or to track the food in commerce.”
FTCLDF stresses that these regulations and requirements apply even if the farm is engaged in only intrastate commerce – that is, within state boundaries. Under the existing Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act, the FDA can only inspect farms that produce food destined for commerce across state lines. HR 875 changes this – all production and commerce becomes “interstate.” Section 406 provides: “In any action to enforce the requirements of the food safety law, the connection with interstate commerce required for jurisdiction shall be presumed to exist.”
“Traceability” and the National Animal ID SystemUnder Section 210 – “Traceback Requirements” – the Food Safety Administration is charged with setting up a national traceability system requiring farmers to keep extensive records that would enable inspectors to track “the history, use, and location of an item of food.”
This system is to be “Consistent with existing statutes and regulations that require record-keeping or labeling for identifying the origin or history of food or food animals,” including “The National Animal Identification system (NAIS) as authorized by the Animal Health Protection Act of 2002 (AHPA).”
The problem is that NAIS was not authorized by the AHPA; it’s never been authorized by congressional legislation.
Jim Babka, editor of DownsizeDC.org, a political action website, regards this as a “bureaucratic initiative,” a “de facto authorization” of NAIS.
“This false assumption gives NAIS the aura of congressional approval,” he writes. “Instead, this is another step on the road to converting NAIS from a voluntary program to a mandatory one. This is exactly what we predicted three years ago when we launched our anti-NAIS campaign.”
Could “Raw” Milk Take a Hit?Many critics are worried whether it will be legal to purchase over deeply concerned over HR 875 bans unpasteurized milk. According to the FTCLDF it’ll depend on the regulations, but the future doesn’t look good. Right now it’s illegal to sell unpasteurized milk across state lines, but some states allow its sale within their boundaries, albeit grudgingly and with heavy restrictions. HR 875 puts even this limited market in jeopardy.
FTCLDF explains:
“FDA has long wanted a complete ban on the sale of raw milk. The agency’s mantra is that raw milk should not be consumed by anyone at any time for any reason. The agency does not consider this subject to be debatable…Under HR 875, FSA is given statutory authority to unilaterally impose a ban.” [Emphasis added] “Under HR 875, FSA has the power to adopt “preventative process controls to reduce adulteration of food” [Section 203], and to issue regulations that “limit the presence and growth of contaminants in food prepared in a food establishment using the best reasonably available techniques and technologies” [Section 203(b)(1)(D)]. FDA has long made it clear that in its opinion the best available technology to limit contamination in milk is pasteurization.”
Even if the FSA doesn’t issue an outright ban, raw milk producers could be harassed out of business instead. HR 875 designates dairies and farms processing milk as Category 2 Food Establishments – and these are to be “randomly inspected at least weekly.”
$1 Million-a-Day Fines for the Food PoliceOn March 14, during his weekly radio broadcast, President Barack Obama accused the Bush administration of having created a “hazard to public health” by not solving food contamination problems, adding he planned to set up set up a “Food Safety Working Group” to “upgrade our food safety laws for the 21st century.”
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That’s going to cost money, and Obama said he’d ask Congress for $1 billion to pay for added inspectors and new laboratories.
If $1 billion isn’t enough, HR 875 has its own built-in money generator to make up any deficit. Fines can be assessed at up to $1 million a day per violation – and each day a violation continues is considered a separate offense. That’s for civil offenses. Criminal offenses – those causing illness or death -- mandate lengthy jail terms for those deemed responsible.
Fines collected by the agency are to be deposited in an account in the Treasury, and the agency “may use the funds in the account without further appropriation or fiscal year limitation . . . to carry out enforcement activities under the food safety law.” The agency may also use the funds “to provide assistance to States to inspect retail commercial food establishments or other food or firms under the jurisdiction of State food safety programs.
As FTCLDF see it: “This would give the States reason to support the bill despite the fact that it dilutes much of what is left of their Tenth Amendment police power to regulate food.”
“Great for Factory Farming”“How did they get this far with such a scheme to apply insane industrial standards to every farm in the country?” asks Linn Cohen-Cole. “Through fear of diseases and of outbreaks of food borne illnesses, both of which they [the multi-national food corporations] cause themselves.” Cole-Cohen, self-described “leftist” and Democrat, isn’t alone in linking the food industry to food control bills like HR 875.
HR 875 would be “Devastating for everyday folks but great for factory farming ops like Monsanto, ADM, Sodexo and Tyson to name a few,” writes Lydia Scott at Campaign for Liberty. “I have no doubt that this legislation was heavily influenced by lobbyists from huge food producers. … It will literally put all independent farmers and food producers out of business due to the huge amounts of money it will take to conform to factory farming methods.”
The role of agribusiness in actually writing HR 875 is a valid question. The fact that DeLauro’s husband Stanley Greenberg, a powerful Democratic political strategist and consultant, counts pesticide and biotech giant Monsanto among his many clients has helped fuel a growing bipartisan opposition to the bill itself, as has the revelation that DeLauro received over $186,000 from agribusiness for her recent re-election campaign.
Critics like Cohen-Cole, Scott and DeWeese say HR 875 has little or nothing to do with food safety and everything to do with government and corporate control of the food supply, and ultimately over the population. As former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger famously observed: "Who controls the food supply controls the people; who controls the energy can control whole continents; who controls money can control the world."
HR 875 Could Result in Arrest, Imprisonment of CEOs of Processed Food Companies (if enforced)by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor
March 19, 2009
(NaturalNews) The health-conscious community is rightly concerned over the pending passage of HR 875, the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009, which hammers small family farms with a whole new level of tyranny and oppression. The proposed law is chock full of ominous-sounding text that would allow government authorities to fine small farms $1 million a day while arresting and imprisoning their owners for refusing to spray toxic chemicals on their organic produce. (There are many other bizarre elements in this proposed law, too.)
But the law has a few other elements that no one is talking about, such as SEC 401 - Prohibited Acts (http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query...), which reads, "It is prohibited (1) to manufacture, introduce, deliver for introduction, or receive in interstate commerce any food that is adulterated, misbranded, or otherwise unsafe."
And that sentence, if actually enforced by the new FDA (Food Safety Agency), should immediately outlaw ALL foods containing:
• Aspartame
• Partially-hydrogenated oils (an "adulteration")
• Homogenized milk (an "adulteration")
• Sodium nitrite
... and many other dangerous ingredients that I've written about for years on NaturalNews, and in my book Grocery Warning (http://www.truthpublishing.com/groc...)
Five years in prison for diet soda company executives?Another part of HR 875 that's quite interesting describes the civil penalties for those responsible for shipping food (or beverage) products that result in "serious illness.
"The law reads:
(1) Civil Penalty -
(A) In General - Any person that commits an act that violates the food safety law (including a regulation promulgated or order issued under the food safety law) may be assessed a civil penalty by the Administrator of not more than $1,000,000 for each such act.
(1) Offense Resulting in Serious Illness - Notwithstanding section 303(a) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 333(a)), if a violation of any provision of section 301 of such Act (21 U.S.C. 301) with respect to an adulterated or misbranded food results in serious illness, the person committing the violation shall be imprisoned for not more than 5 years, fined in accordance with title 18, United States Code, or both.
Thus, because chemical sweeteners in diet sodas have been well documented to cause conditions that most reasonable people would consider "serious illnesses" (blindness, seizures, brain tumors, etc.), if HR 875 is enforced, it could result in the arrest and imprisonment of the CEOs of Coke and Pepsi.
And that doesn't even cover all the other food and beverage companies that sell products known to contribute to serious illness. Diabetes is a serious illness, and soda products directly promote it. Heart disease is a serious illness, and margarine products (which are adulterated beyond belief) certainly cause heart disease. Cancer is a serious illness, and bacon, sausage and processed meats contain sodium nitrite that directly promotes cancer.
Given these simple truths, if HR 875 passes, I suggest the members of the natural health community should get together and start calling for the arrest and imprisonment of the CEOs of Kraft Foods, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and all sorts of other food mega-corporations that ship products that promote disease and death.
Speaking of death, the penalties get even more aggressive if someone dies from eating harmful food products. As stated in the HR 875 bill text:
(2) Offense Resulting in Death - Notwithstanding section 303(a) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 333(a)), if a violation of any provision of section 301 of such Act (21 U.S.C. 331) with respect to an adulterated or misbranded food results in death, the person committing the violation shall be imprisoned for not more than 10 years, fined in accordance with title 18, United States Code, or both.
Did you catch that? Under this law, we could conceivably get the CEOs of junk food companies locked away for ten years! To do that, we have to demonstrate that people are being killed by consuming their food products. That's easy: Just open your eyes and look around: Virtually everybody dying in America today is dying in part or in whole from the consumption of toxic chemicals and adulterated ingredients found in processed foods and pharmaceuticals. If any honest science were actually being conducted on this, it would be remarkably easy to prove.
Shutting down CVS Pharmacies, Walgreens and Junk Food Retailers
That's not all you'll find in HR 875. According to the law text, even retailers who receive adulterated foods would be subjected to civil penalties. As the law states: "It is prohibited (1) to manufacture, introduce, deliver for introduction, or receive in interstate commerce any food that is adulterated, misbranded, or otherwise unsafe."
That means it would be illegal for Walgreens, for example, to stock processed foods made with harmful ingredients. I don't know if you've ever actually been in a Walgreens, but I have. And if you remove everything in that store that's harmful for your health, there's virtually nothing left but empty shelf space. That whole retail box is a cesspool of toxic chemicals, if you ask me.
Wouldn't it be cool to see the CEO of Walgreens arrested and imprisoned for selling products that poison people? And why stop at Walgreens? You could move on to Wal-Mart, CVS Pharmacies, K-Mart and grocery store chains, too. There's hardly a single grocery store operating in America today that isn't selling some sort of harmful poison on its shelves. Heck, even Whole Foods sells soups and deli foods made with yeast extract (which contains MSG).
Why HR 875 will never be enforced in this waySo frankly, if you really read HR 875, and if it were really enforced as written, it would spell an end to the mass-poisoning of Americans through processed foods and beverages.
But you know as well as I do that this law will never be enforced as written. Instead of targeting processed junk foods that cause cancer and heart disease, the law will be used to intimidate and prosecute organic farmers and raw milk producers.
As with all laws under a nation of tyranny, this law will be used to oppress freedom and centralize power in the hands of the (agribusiness) few.
Remember this: In a lawless land, laws have no meaning other than to justify acts of tyranny against the People. And the United States of America is now, without question, a lawless land. The FDA follows no law. The FTC follows no law. The Federal Reserve follows no law. Even the President makes up his own laws (executive orders).
In America today, Laws are selectively applied against the enemies of the status quo, which is primarily made up of powerful corporations, corrupt lawmakers and tyrannical federal regulators like the DEA, which has conducted medical marijuana raids against California's health clinics that were fully complying with state law!
This brings me to an astonishing conclusion: It does not matter how HR 875 is written. The "language" of laws in America today is all but irrelevant. The reality is that Big Agribusiness is taking over the food supply much like Big Pharma has taken over medicine, and anyone who gets in the way of that agenda (small organic family farmers, raw milk products, raw almond growers, etc.) will be destroyed, arrested or put out of business. What words are written on paper are irrelevant.
This is precisely how the American Medical Association and the FDA railroaded natural health practitioners and took over medicine in America. Food is now being hijacked in the same way. In fact, these two conspiracies are related: Food is being targeted for termination precisely because when sold in natural, non-adulterated forms, it is highly medicinal! This is why the new "food security" laws focus on fumigation, pasteurization and irradiation: Because these things destroy the natural medicine found in foods, rendering them medicinally inert.
It's all so pathetically predictableHR 875 should be called the Food Destruction Act of 2009. As usual, Big Government exploited a food crisis (the peanut contamination) in order to forward its food tyranny agenda.
I predicted all this on April 14, 2008, in an article called The Food Irradiation Plot: Why the USDA Wants to Sterilize Fresh Produce and Turn Live Foods into Dead Foods (http://www.naturalnews.com/023015.html). In that 2008 article, I wrote:
"Destroying the natural medicine in the food supply sure would be a highly effective way to create more customers for Big Pharma, wouldn't it? I think it's all part of the "keep the population sick and diseased" plot being carried out by an evil partnership between drug companies and the U.S. government. We already know that the FDA and USDA work for the corporations, not the People. We already know that they will do practically anything to boost their profits (including conducting medical experiments on infants, drugging schoolchildren, lying to the public, fabricating clinical trials and more). Is it any surprise that they would now attempt a "final solution" on the food supply that kills the food and thereby results in a huge reduction in the population's intake of the disease-fighting nutrients found in fresh produce?"I went on to describe the steps that would be taken by the U.S. government in order to create the conditions for a national food safety tyranny organization. These steps include:
1) Conduct poor inspections of fresh produce on purpose, in order to cause a large increase in food-borne illness outbreaks. (We've seen this increase happen over the last 12 - 24 months.) This can be easily accomplished by reducing the budget of food inspection offices, or removing inspectors from the payroll altogether (which has already happened).
2) Wait for the outbreaks to happen. When consumers get sick, run national press releases announcing how dangerous the food supply is.
3) Watch the consumer reaction as people and lawmakers demand "something be done!"
4) Once the public is demanding a solution to food-borne illnesses, roll out a national produce irradiation requirement that sterilizes all the food.
This is essentially what has happened now with the FSA (Food Safety Administration), but on a much larger scale.
The bottom line in all this? It's all so pathetically predictable that I'm surprised most people can't see through it. The agenda to take over the food supply is being advanced precisely by the allowed creation of a food crisis, which wasn't even really much of a crisis to begin with. A few people died from eating tainted peanuts. While their deaths are regrettable, their numbers are insignificant compared to the number of people dying every day from pharmaceuticals and processed food.
The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 is a tyrannical answer to an imagined crisis that has been purposely blown out of proportion by Big Government and the mainstream media.
But you know what? If HR 875 actually passes, let's demand that its written text actually be enforced against all the processed food companies selling dangerous, toxic products to the American public right now.
Lawmakers trash the ConstitutionFood Safety and Modernization Act of 2009By Henry Lamb
Sunday, March 15, 2009
It appears that the lawmakers who assemble in Washington have no idea what the Constitution says, or worse, they simply don’t care. The 4th Amendment says quite clearly, that:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated….”
Surveillance of animals, plants, products or the environment,” on every family farm, ranch, vineyard, and fishing hole in the country
Connecticut Democrat Rosa DeLauro has introduced the Food Safety and Modernization Act of 2009 (HR875). Her bill will create a new Food Safety Administration and give its administrator the authority to “conduct monitoring and surveillance of animals, plants, products or the environment,” on every family farm, ranch, vineyard, and fishing hole in the country.
Moreover, the administrator can visit and inspect the property and demand that the owner present “papers and effects,” and all records relating to food production.
There is nothing in this bill that requires that the administrator show probable cause or that evidence be presented to a judge to secure a warrant for entry into the property. The 4th Amendment explicitly prohibits government from entering private property without a warrant, “describing the place to be searched, and the persons or thing to be seized.”
DeLauro, and the 39 Democrat co-sponsors of this bill, must have missed this very clear language when she wrote into the law authorization for the administrator to seize up to $1 million each day a violation exists. Section 405 of the bill says that “the validity and appropriateness of the order of the Administrator assessing the civil penalty shall not be subject to judicial review.”
If there were no other problem with this bill, this gross violation of the 4th Amendment should be sufficient reason for the bill to be killed and buried by the first committee that hears it.
Food safety is a legitimate governmental pursuit; the invasion of private property is not. This bill redefines the concept of “due process” to mean that government dictates the process and private citizens must pay whatever government says is due.
This bill gives the proposed “Food Safety Administration” broad, “brown-shirt” authority to regulate and manage every facet of the food industry. The administrator can require every backyard gardener: to register his property, submit a written production plan, admit unannounced inspectors, present copies of production records, and payment of fines for any infraction declared by the brown-shirts.
HR875 would include the National Animal Identification System that the USDA has been trying to impose for several years. At a five-hour congressional hearing Wednesday, not one word was said about constitutional authority for government to mandate the registration of private property and surrender private information to the government.
Dr, John Clifford, representing the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Service, a strong advocate for the program, spoke for more than an hour. He did admit that the animal identification program was required by the World Organization for Animal Health as a prerequisite for international trade. Opponents of the measure were allowed on 10 minutes, divided between two speakers.
Witnesses and Congressmen spoke about the need to mandate a program to register every premises, tag every animal, and track the movement of every animal - to protect food safety. Dr. Max Thornberry, representing R-CALF USA, one of the opponents, told the committee that existing systems fully protected food safety all the way to the slaughter house, and that from the slaughter house to the grocery store is where food safety should be improved.
Agriculture Committee Chairman, Collin Peterson, said that a major outbreak of a disease such as hoof and mouth disease could cost from $30 billion to $300 billion. He said that the cost of implementing a mandatory national identification system was nothing compared to the potential loss in the event of a disease outbreak. He did not mention, however, that the last outbreak of hoof and mouth disease occurred in 1929, caused by an animal imported from Argentina, and that the outbreak was contained in less than a month without NAIS, at a time when not even telephones were in common use.
Scenarios that use food safety, and potential cost of a disease outbreak, are smoke screens to distract attention away from the fact that for nearly 80 years that has been no major disease outbreak because existing systems make American food the safest in the world. The system proposed by the NAIS, and by HR875 would not improve food safety, but would give the federal government absolute control over the food supply of every individual and would bring the United States into compliance with the requirements of United Nation’s agencies that administer global governance.
USDA officials and congressmen complain that only about one-third of the nation’s livestock owners are enrolled in the NAIS (many of whom were enrolled without their knowledge), despite nearly $150 million spent over the last five years. This should be strong evidence that the people most affected by the proposed program simply do not want it. In view of this evidence, it would appear that legislators who claim to represent the people, would trash the NAIS, and HR875, and move on to another issue.
Instead, they continue to ignore the expressed will of the people, ignore the 4th Amendment, and prepare to make the NAIS mandatory through HR875 or a similar bill. This is how lawmakers trash the Constitution.
HR 875 Would Essentially Outlaw Family Farms in the United StatesSean Shepard
Thursday, March 5, 2009
I get a lot of e-mails each day and one today (hi Cheryl!) pointed my attention to HR 875, a bill introduced into the 111th Congress. SO, I went and did something that members of Congress rarely do and actually read the bill. More accurately, I glanced through it which is still more than they ever do. It was introduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT 3rd) and, as of this writing, has around 36 co-sponsors including my Congressman, Andre Carson (D-IN 7th). It immediately strikes me as being terribly bad legislation. Under a heading described as protecting the public health and ensuring the safety of food it creates a "Food Safety Administration" within Health and Human Services. Oddly, it doesn't just add regulations to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) which is also under HHS. And don't we have the USDA as well? The bill applies to all manner of "Food Establishments" and "Food Production Facilities" (note the following excerpt).
(14) Food Production Facility - The term ‘food production facility’ means any farm, ranch, orchard, vineyard, aquaculture facility, or confined animal-feeding operation.The bill would appear to even cover some fishing boats and potentially your downtown hot dog street vendors. "Transportion" of food also could be covered. In fact, the bill probably would also apply to your family garden since no exemption is apparent. What it essentially does is place a tremendous regulatory burden on all of these organizations and individuals by requiring them to have "food safety plans", consider all relevant hazards [note: I wish Congress would consider all "relevant hazards" or unintended consequences of everything they did], testing, sample keeping and to maintain all kinds of records. The bill also allows the government to dictate all manner of standards related to fertilizer use, nutrients, packaging, temperature controls and other items.This massive bloat in government regulation (and taxpayer expense to support it) would add additional cost and headache to every farm, some fishing boats, slaughterhouse, processing plant, CO-OP and anyone else associated with growing, storing, transporting or processing food. The bill authorizes fines of up to $1,000,000 (one million) dollars for "each act" and for "each day" of a violation. We'll skip over the concern over how important food production and distribution, largely recession proof, could be if our economy continues to decline and inflation takes hold and just address this on the apparent lunacy that it is. As those familiar with history know, large dominant corporations often will use government to demand industry regulations that force the small competitor out of business or introduce barriers to entry that prevent new companies from starting up to compete. In the early part of the 20th century a tremendous amount of regulation was written by the industries themselves to be enacted into law.In this case, I think this bill could do tremendous harm to family farms or independent food operators. Only massive companies have the ability to meet these regulations and imagine the legal expenses that could be incurred to defend oneself? Never forget, the government has near unlimited resources where you might have to cough up $200 to $500 an hour for a good attorney to defend yourself, your farm, boat, truck, restaurant, orchard, vineyard or hot dog stand. And what about the increased cost of food associated with the cost of compliance, it's not unreasonable to think that many places would have to hire staff or outside assistance just to comply with the law.We have an excellent history in the United States of safe food, but as Obama's Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel suggested recently, "You should never want a serious crisis to go to waste." He spoke those words relative to looking for opportunities to do things that people would not otherwise accept without some crisis. We should be very careful not to let the very rare instance of something like the recent peanut problem be used as such a "crisis". There is no impetus to point the bureaucrats of government and the guns they control, their ability to not only deprive someone of life or freedom but to destroy whole families, careers and reputations, at everyone in the country who might be involved in ensuring we have stuff to eat.We're doing just fine without this legislation.
Surge In Home Gardening
Published on 03-15-2009
Source: AP
With the recession in full swing, many Americans are returning to their roots — literally — cultivating vegetables in their backyards to squeeze every penny out of their food budget.
Industry surveys show double-digit growth in the number of home gardeners this year and mail-order companies report such a tremendous demand that some have run out of seeds for basic vegetables such as onions, tomatoes and peppers.
"People's home grocery budget got absolutely shredded and now we've seen just this dramatic increase in the demand for our vegetable seeds. We're selling out," said George Ball, CEO of Burpee Seeds, the largest mail-order seed company in the U.S. "I've never seen anything like it."
Gardening advocates, who have long struggled to get America grubby, have dubbed the newly planted tracts "recession gardens" and hope to shape the interest into a movement similar to the victory gardens of World War II.
Those gardens, modeled after a White House patch planted by Eleanor Roosevelt in 1943, were intended to inspire self-sufficiency, and at their peak supplied 40 percent of the nation's fresh produce, said Roger Doiron, founding director of Kitchen Gardeners International.
Doiron and several colleagues are petitioning President Obama to plant a similar garden at the White House as part of his call for a responsible, eco-friendly economic turnaround. Proponents have collected 75,000 signatures on an online petition.
"It's really part of our history and it's part of the White House's history," Doiron said. "When I found out why it had been done over the course of history and I looked at where we are now, it makes sense again."
But for many Americans, the appeal of backyard gardening isn't in its history — it's in the savings.
The National Gardening Association estimates that a well-maintained vegetable garden yields a $500 average return per year. A study by Burpee Seeds claims that $50 spent on gardening supplies can multiply into $1,250 worth of produce annually.
Doiron spent nine months weighing and recording each vegetable he pulled from his 1,600-square-foot garden outside Portland, Maine. After counting the final winter leaves of Belgian endive, he found he had saved about $2,150 by growing produce for his family of five instead of buying it.
Adriana Martinez, an accountant who reduced her grocery bill to $40 a week by gardening, said there's peace of mind in knowing where her food comes from. And she said the effort has fostered a sense of community through a neighborhood veggie co-op.
"We're helping to feed each other and what better time than now?" Martinez said.
A new report by the National Gardening Association predicts a 19 percent increase in home gardening in 2009, based on spring seed sales data and a telephone survey. One-fifth of respondents said they planned to start a food garden this year and more than half said they already were gardening to save on groceries.
Community gardens nationwide are also seeing a surge of interest. The waiting list at the 312-plot Long Beach Community Garden has nearly quadrupled — and no one is leaving, said Lonnie Brundage, who runs the garden's membership list.
"They're growing for themselves, but you figure if they can use our community garden year-round they can save $2,000 or $3,000 or $4,000 a year," she said. "It doesn't take a lot for it to add up."
Seed companies say this renaissance has rescued their vegetable business after years of drooping sales. Orders for vegetable seeds have skyrocketed, while orders for ornamental flowers are flat or down, said Richard Chamberlin, president of Harris Seeds in Rochester, N.Y.
Business there has increased 40 percent in the last year, with the most growth among vegetables such as peppers, tomatoes and kitchen herbs that can thrive in small urban plots or patio containers, he said. Harris Seeds recently had to reorder pepper and tomato seeds.
"I think if things were fine, you wouldn't see people doing this. They're just too busy," Chamberlin said. "Gardening for most Americans was a dirty word because it meant work and nobody wanted more work — but that's changed."
Harris Seed's Web site now gets 40,000 hits a day.
Among larger companies, Burpee saw a 20 percent spike in sales in the last year and started marketing a kit for first-time gardeners called "The Money Garden." It has sold 15,000 in about two months, said Ball.
A Web-based retailer called MasterGardening.com is selling similar packages, and Park Seed of Greenwood, S.C., is marketing a "Garden for Victory Seed Collection." Slogan: "Win the war in your own backyard against high supermarket prices and nonlocal produce!"
Cultivators with years of experience worry that home gardeners lured by promises of big savings will burn out when they see the amount of labor required to get dollars from their dirt. The average gardener spends nearly five hours a week grubbing in the dirt and often contends with failure early on, said Bruce Butterfield, a spokesman for The National Gardening Association.
"The one thing you don't factor into it is the cost of your time and your labor," he said.
"But even if it's just a couple of tomato plants in a pot, that's worth the price of admission."
H.R. 875: The End of Farmers Markets?
March 10th, 2009
That this will do is force anyone who produces food of any kind, and then transports it to a different location for sale, to register with a new federal agency called the “Food Safety Administration.” Even growers who only sell only fruit and/or vegetables at farmers markets would not only have to register, but they would be subject inspections by federal agents of their property and all records related to food production. The frequency of these inspections will be determined by the whim of the Food Safety Administration. Mandatory “safety” records would have to be kept. Anyone who fails to register and comply with all of this nonsense could be facing a fine of up to $1,000,000 per violation.
I’ve bought food at several farmers markets for years and I have yet to meet any vendors who are fond of the government. I think it’s pretty safe to say that most vendors at farmers markets won’t go along with this. The problem will be that the people who run the farmers markets will be forced to make sure that vendors are “registered” with the government.
Is this Change we can believe in? Maybe it is for Obama’s Secretary of Agriculture, Tom “I Fly with Monsanto” Vilsack.
For the rest of us, this is a nightmare. [Read entire article at: http://blog.puppetgov.com/2009/03/10/hr-875-the-end-of-farmers-markets/]
Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez tightens state control of food amid rocketing inflation and food shortagesPresident Hugo Chavez is tightening state control over Venezuela's food supply, setting quotas for food staples which are to be sold at government-imposed prices.By Jeremy McDermott, Latin America Correspondent
06 Mar 2009
Venezuela's public finances are unravelling, with oil prices at $40 a barrel, while the national budget is calculated at $60 a barrel. Inflation is running at over 30 per cent, yet with the new measures Mr Chavez is seeking to ensure that his core support, the poor, can still fill their shopping baskets with food.
"If any industry wants to ride roughshod over the consumers, with a view to getting better dividends, we are going to act," said Carlos Osorio, the national superintendent of silos and storage. "For the government, access to food is a matter of national security."
Production quotas and prices have now been set for cooking oil, white rice, sugar, coffee, flour, margarine, pasta, cheeses and tomato sauce.
White rice, the staple for many Venezuelans, can now only be sold at a price of 2.15 bolivares (.07p) per kilo. Private companies insist that production of that kilo costs 4.41 bolivares (.14p) and that government regulations are impossible to fulfil and companies will quickly go broke. Companies that are dedicated to rice production must ensure that 80 per cent of their efforts are dedicated to white rice. The new regulations set production percentages, as companies were rebranding their products to avoid the government controls, like flavouring the rice, as the price restrictions apply only to white rice.
"Forcing companies to produce rice at a loss will not resolve the situation, simply make it worse," said Luis Carmona of Polar, a rice company that has been singled out by the government for trying to sidestep restrictions.
Government price controls on basic goods have been in place, in various forms, since 2003. But the restrictions have forced Venezuela to become increasingly reliant on imports of these products as local farmers will not supply the selected food staples at government prices.
Mr Chavez last month won a referendum allowing him to stand indefinitely for re-election. With that now achieved the Venezuelan leader, who has vowed to turn his South American nation into a model Socialist state, is now taking some unpopular decisions needed to stabilise his floundering economy.