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A US bill undermines small farms, even gardening
the Green Party of the US has urged the government to amend the food safety bill to protect small-scale farms and organic farming.
The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 was introduced in the US House of Agriculture in February. It is pending with the House Committee on Agriculture. Following a recent wave of contaminated food recalls, the bill aims "to prevent food-borne illness and improving security of food from intentional contamination".
But critics say the bill imposes so many restrictions that they can be met only by large agribusinesses and not by small organic and garden farmers. The bill requires farmers and those producing food and food products or transporting it for sale to register with the food safety administration. This is also applicable to those growing vegetables in the backyard for self consumption. "The US needs national food safety guarantees in the age of genetic modification, misleading labelling and contaminants, especially pesticides," said Nancy Allen, farmer and member of the Green Party. "But the one-size-fits-all approach of the bill risks family farms and local, organic agriculture," Allen said. Several consumers' associations have also voiced concern. Organic Consumers Association, a US-based advocacy group, said the bill would require farms to have a food safety plan, allow their records to be inspected and comply with food safety regulations failing which they would be penalized up to US $1,000,000.
The bill was tabled by Democrat Rosa Delauro, wife of Stanley Greenberg who was political consultant to Monsanto, agro-biotech giant.
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