Friday, March 5, 2010

The FDA does exist!

As seen in this article, the FDA just formally notified 17 food manufacturers that 22 of their food products were in some way violating the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. This is a great comfort to know that our government agency that is supposed to look out for the safety of the public does have some courage to step up to big corporations. This however, is the first major action by the FDA in about 10years, as a news reporter for WebMD stated.

Why has it been 10 years? This is something that we have discussed a little bit in class and have seen in the film Food Inc. We have talked about the in ability of the FDA to get corporations to owe up to their responsibility for things such as the outbreaks of E. coli and salmonella. It took too long for recalls to finally be made by corporations because the FDA did not have the power to enforce a recall but rather could only suggest that it be done. We have read about this problem and I'm sure we all have felt confused why a government agency that is in charge of ensuring safety has been barely visible, overshadowed by corporate power. It's a shame that the agency has even been run by food industry executives that have a special interest in protecting these corporate powerhouses.

Well, in spite of all these past problems, the FDA has come through with a bold stance that is badly needed. They have criticized the labels of these 17 companies, and they seem to be standing firm. Now how do we fit in? What can we do to try and help ensure that the FDA continues to do the type of crack downs that it just performed? First of all we need to advocate education. Yes, I’m preaching to the choir here on this blog, but we need to tell our friends and our families. As I am writing this on this Friday night, that should be the start of my break, I just explained to one of my inquisitive housemates what I am writing about and why. Maybe this is one more person conscious of the change that is needed.

Individually, we can make a dent, but as a group there are possibilities. One group that has been working to ensure that legislation is put forward to protect the public is The Center for Food Safety. They are a great active group that is currently trying to stop Monsanto, yes the company that was described in Food Inc, from being allowed to sell its Roundup Ready alfalfa (a grass that is used for hay, the same kind we see baled up in fields). The USDA has put a hold on this product until the environmental impacts are studied, but Monsanto is, as expected, fighting this hold and will do whatever it can to approve this seed and obtain a similar grip of the market as they already have with the soybean.

For issues such as this, it will take a unified and educated public, but most importantly, a strong central agency that will ensure that consumer safety and their well being is maintained going into the future.

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