Just in case it was becoming too easy for farmers to make a profit on the most important product: food, the FDA has stepped in to create new rules which will save us from wildly dangerous fruits such as apples and bananas. Sarcasm aside, what these news rules will actually do is put small fruit farmers out of business while favoring large growers by subjecting already safe foods to expensive and strict standards, according to a Washington Post article. The problem for fruit farmers is that the FDA is not just targeting foods which have been unsafe in the past like spinach or cantaloupe, but are going after fruits which have virtually never caused illness based on contamination. Fruits usually consumed raw (you know, the way they are supposed to be consumed) will be subject to the new standards.
Growers subject to the new produce rules could face a variety of new responsibilities, including regular testing of irrigation water, sanitizing canvas fruit-picking bags and keeping animals away from crops. Many tree fruit farmers worry about the cost of such measures and say they would offer few safety benefits.
Never-the-less FDA officials say that the new rules are “only a starting point”.
“It’s complicated. It’s a big, transformational thing that we’re doing. . . . We’re creating a whole new food-safety system here, so we accept that it will take some time to get the rules right,”
And in the mean time small farmers and fruit growers will go out of business, but the FDA accepts this because it takes time to get the rules right. And by the time the rules are right, it will only be big corporations growing food, because small farmers’ businesses and lives will have already been ruined by excessive government regulation. Add to that the fact that larger companies usually have worse health standards than the small ones, and the money to get the right politicians on board in case they need to make the FDA look the other way.
In reality fruit farmers are already regulated by consumers. I know of many small apple farmers in my area where you can go and pick your own apples, and some of these small farms even make their own wine. How long do you think small operations would stay in business if they were constantly getting their patrons sick? The new laws hardly even address foreign imports from places like China, which will become comparatively cheaper to the U.S. grown products after the FDA rules go into effect.
And as for larger farms, they are already being regulated by the stores that buy the products.
Leslie Judd, who with her husband and son oversees 350 acres of apples, cherries and pears in Washington’s Yakima Valley, says her family abides by state standards, industry best practices and detailed demands from major retailers such as Wal-Mart and Costco. She said the proposed federal rules are unnecessary and would further strain the resources of her family farm and many others like it.
Wal-Mart and Costco are not going to continue selling foods that make people sick, therefore the standards which private industry holds on their providers are already regulating better than the FDA could. In fact what FDA regulations do is lure the public into a false sense of safety by claiming that they will find and eliminate unsafe food. Since they actually could never test enough shipments, and could never be in all the places where our food is grown to oversee, that means that unsafe foods are only dealt with after an outbreak of E.Coli or salmonella. If people did not think the FDA was taking care of our food safety, they would be more inclined to find out which fruit growers have good safety track records and which ones do not. Farmers who already have to struggle for a profit against uncooperative weather will now be further burdened, and “[The costs] would end up getting passed on to the consumer, if we didn’t go out of business first” according to a third generation apple farmer, Phil Glaize. These rules are bad for business, and when the business is supplying us with food, the FDA rules will be bad for everyone.
And if America looks to Europe for its cues of how the government should be run in the future, the worst is yet to come. Natural News reports that the European Commission will outlaw virtually all seeds not specifically approved by the government board.
A new law proposed by the European Commission would make it illegal to “grow, reproduce or trade” any vegetable seeds that have not been “tested, approved and accepted” by a new EU bureaucracy named the “EU Plant Variety Agency.”
And even though at first this law would only apply to commercial growers and retailers, anyone with a garden would have their seed supplies dried up. The law says that even heirloom seeds would need to be approved by the commission before being grown by gardeners. And if you are going to save your seed to grow more vegetables next year, well you better get approval from the commission unless you want to be arrested and have your seeds confiscated. You see the new EU laws would make vegetable gardeners into criminals, for not registering their seeds and gardens with the government.
And if you think that companies like Monsanto wouldn’t try to push similar legislation through the U.S. Congress, you are being naive. The trend in America has been more power to the USDA and FDA to regulate food supplies, while allowing major corporations to bully small farms out of business in U.S. courts. By doing things like allowing Monsanto to patent a specific gene in a seed, the U.S. then allows suits against small farmers for “patent infringement” when 3% of their crop has been contaminated with the patented Mosanto gene.
We need to stop the bullying of small farms and fruit growers before it is too late. We should take the responsibility for regulating fruits and vegetables back, by buying from reputable local farms, and rejecting increased regulation by the FDA of already safe foods. The USDA and FDA have a terrible track record for how they treat small farms, so if we allow them to have control over regulating our food, only giant agri-corporations will be left.