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Opinion: House Budget Bill Includes Supersized FDA

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By:  Brent Regan, http://voxverus.com/    

After a pummeling in the November elections over federal spending and the expansion of government, the lame duck House passed a budget bill that contained just that.  In addition to a dozen spending bills, the House stuffed the Food Safety Modernization Act (S.510) into the bill, which increases the power of the Food and Drug Administration with over a billion dollar price tag.

S.510 has been called the “most dangerous bill in the history of the United States.” With over 225 pages of regulations, the FDA is not only granted the authority to issue mandatory recalls, but has the power to tell farmers how to grow food, including regulations on soil, water, temperature, even what type of animals are permitted on the premises. From 2011 to 2015, the estimated cost by the Congressional Budget Office is $1.4 billion.

The bill, however, does not allow FDA regulation of meat, poultry or processed eggs.

According to the National Independent Consumers and Farmers Association, “S.510 will not improve food safety. Instead it will bury farmers in regulations and paperwork and consolidate agricultural production into fewer, larger industrial facilities.”

Even with the Tester Amendment, which is supposed to exempt small farmers from such onerous red tape, the bill threatens small farmers and organic and local producers.  “The Tester amendment still puts additional paperwork, record keeping and scrutiny onto direct marketers,” according to the NICFA.

The US food supply is already regulated by 15 different agencies, but the FDA, like other government agencies, does not have a stellar record of effectiveness or efficiency.  According to GAO testimony before a House subcommittee in 2008:

“[The] FDA is one of 15 agencies that collectively administer at least 30 laws related to food safety. This fragmentation is the key reason GAO added the federal oversight of food safety to its High-Risk Series in January 2007 and called for a government wide reexamination of the food safety system. We have reported on problems with this system—including inconsistent oversight, ineffective coordination, and inefficient use of resources.”

Granting an inconsistent, ineffective and inefficient government agency with widespread authority over our food supply is frightening.  “An FDA with unlimited power could be expected to order recalls on countless products that are perfectly safe, with predictable impacts on prices and consumer choice,” wrote Gregory Conko, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, in Forbes.

“Recall what happened in June 2008, when the FDA encouraged a voluntary recall of tomatoes seemingly linked to that year's major salmonella outbreak. Countless supermarkets, restaurants and consumers threw out crates of tomatoes in a scare that cost the industry an estimated $100 million in losses before the FDA realized the problem was actually tainted jalapeño peppers.”

While the FDA is already authorized to inspect the food supply, it rarely does so.  According to the NICFA, the FDA inspects less than one percent of imports and fewer than 25% of processing facilities.

Couple the expansion of the FDA with Healthcare Reform and the increased power of the Department of Agriculture under the Child Nutrition Act, and we have a clear view of how the federal government has become a creeping giant. 

Brent Regan, Inventor and Developer of  “VoxVerus”, http://voxverus.com/, a social    networking system designed to promote communication between voters and their elected officials.                      

Bio:  Founder and President of Regan Designs, an entrepreneur and design engineer, inventor (11 patents) and problem solver, specializing in designing electromechanical products for clients in the medical, aerospace, defense, marine and automotive industries. Brent's most recient invention is VoxVerus http://voxverus.com a social networking system designed to promote communication betweeen the voters and their elected officials

Brent co-developed the Liquid Robotics "Wave Glider", which won the 2010 Wall Street Journal Technology Innovation AWARD. He was the Co-Founder and President of Regan Stent (Coronary Vascular stents) and inventor of the Electronic Flight Bag (a self contained tablet computer for commercial aviation navigation). Brent was the builder of the Regan Lancair IV-P High performance (300 MPH) experimental aircraft.

He is an instrument rated private pilot and winner of the 1996 Great Cross Country Air Race. Brent was also the Co-Founder and Director of Engineering of Schilling Robotics Servohydraulic Telemanipulators (Robotic Arms) for hazardous and remote applications, used to seal the recent Gulf Oil Leak. He also was the Founder and President of Genesis Engineering (1982-1986) high performance engine development for motorsports, and founder of Porschetech Inc., Porsche automobile service and racing preparation.

Brent won the RDC 4 hour Endurance Road Race twice (1982 & 1983) and the USARM Award for Competitive Achievement (1983). Brent was also the Designer and Builder of the “Plug-In” street licensed electric car (1977).  Brent has been a member of American Mensa High IQ society since 1993 and in the 99.9 percentile ranking, the Society of Automotive Engineers since 1983, and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association since 1992.  He enjoys life in North Idaho with his wife of 24 years and three children.  (Can be uplinked for national TV interviews in Spokane, Washington)                        

Contact: 208 676 1922, brent@voxverus.com, http://voxverus.com/

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