Hi all -?
Please consider calling your Senators today re: Senate Bill 510. Language from this hotly debated "Food Safety and Modernization" Act has been attached to a "must pass" House bill, so it will face little scrutiny without public outcry.?
Though "permaculture" isn't made of food, people are. This bill has major implications for the way we produce and procure food for ourselves; what and from whom we can buy and exchange food, etc. ?
Even if it won't actually stop you from growing food and sharing it with your neighbors, it may make perfectly healthy locally-produced food illegal and push into the black market (if small-scale farmers who also process food don't [do tons of paperwork and documentation?][jump through all manner of yet-to-be-determined hoops?] to show that they're exempt from strict regulations), and it would allow the FDA to create food growing standards that may force your favorite farmers to lower their already sustainable/organic standards. There's also a piece in there about changing federal law to be in compliance with WTO policies that will create trade incentives to import food, rather than strengthening/building local food systems. ?... and more.?
[It's not clear to me whether the Tester-Hagan amendments to the Senate bill are included here, but even if they are, they offer some exemptions from certain strict standards and expensive procedures for small scale producers, but leave the door wide open for other prohibitively expensive requirements.]
One thing you can do is (ask/encourage/urge/demand) your Senators to make sure the S510 language is removed from the House bill, so that it can continue through legislative process on its own and bear the public attention it deserves.?
You can go do this site, put in your zipcode and generate emails for your Senators.?
If you find the language in the email doesn't speak for you, edit. (S510 has spawned interesting alliances among right- and left-wing 'liberals' - and this org is allied with anti-big-government Tea Party folks.) It didn't quite speak for me, so my edited text is below.?
"EDITED EMAIL TEXT >
S.510 LANGUAGE HAS BEEN ADDED TO HR 3082, THE CONTINUING RESOLUTION, BY THE HOUSE IN A 212 - 206 VOTE.?
PLEASE STRIP THE S.510 LANGUAGE FROM THE CONTINUING RESOLUTION!?
On December 8, 2010, the US House added the provisions of S.510 - a "food safety" bill (that increases oversight costs and expands FDA authority, but does not actually address a major cause of food UNsafety, massive large-scale food production and lack of biodiversity in our food system) to its "must pass" Continuing Resolution, HR 3082. ?This is both bad legislative practice and horrific public policy.
Food becomes "unsafe" because of chemical and bacteriological contamination. It can be considered "un-nourishing" when it does not provided real nutrition and even "detrimental" when your body (not having received proper nutrition) must expend energy to try to digest and assimilate low quality food and also cleanse itself of chemical additives and byproducts added to highly processed foods. A diet centered on un-nourishing and detrimental foods leads to more and more instances, "outbreaks and epidemics," of preventable diseases related to under-nutrition: cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity (source: WHO and FAO special report, 2002) S510 does not effectively support healthy food systems. ?
Now that the House has attached this bill to a Continuing Resolution, a "Must Pass" Bill, it is vitally important for Senate leaders to protect both the people of the United States and the legislative integrity of the US Congress. ?I urge you to lead the effort to remove S510 from the House continuing resolution,?so that it can continue through legislative process on its own and bear the public attention it deserves.?
Instead of S510-style, top-down and one-size-fits-all regulation, consider looking at the decentralized and local small and medium scale food systems emerging all around the country and how these local models can be encouraged. These systems provide affordable, organic produce, eggs and meat, have a CLEAN food safety record, and also hold food growers/producers accountable to their communities to a much greater degree at much less expense. ?