Monday, December 20, 2010

Unprecedented Gutsiness by the Federal Government

This post originally appeared in the Huffington Post.

Talk about unexpected news -- the Senate has acted by unanimous consent. In a historic, gutsy, and pioneering move our elected officials have come to a shocking conclusion--our food should be safe.
Who said the Senate isn't a body of innovation and change?

Last month 73 Senators voted to pass the Food Safety and Modernization Act. Never mind that that vote was invalidated because the bill will raise revenue and should have originated in the House of Representatives.

The Senate has gone out on a limb in passing this legislation. They have opted to take on a truly controversial fight -- food contamination. Among other hot button provisions, the bill will force companies to recall bad food, inspect farms and food processing facilities, and impose stricter standards on imported foods. Our legislators are really stepping into the public fray on this one.

The bill will give the Food and Drug Administration more resources to fight and prevent such minor issues as outbreaks of E. coli and salmonella. When will our government turn its attention to something of consequence?

The Senate, never a body to shy away from risky behavior, has passed the first update of our food safety system in approximately 100 years. Oh how fast the wheels of the government turn.

But in truth, there are arguments on the other side of this issue. For instance, some people may deserve to be contaminated. But seriously folks, this bill gives the FDA a good deal of money, some argue it should spent elsewhere (or not spent at all). Small farmers have worried about the cost of compliance. Some also argue it represents government overreaching, as certain food producers and farmers will fall under stricter FDA control.

Even taking into account the counter-arguments, it seems to me there's a rather good case for trying to make sure that people don't get sick from what they eat. In an all-too-rare act of bipartisanship, members of both sides of the aisle in the Senate agree.

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