Thursday, September 30, 2004

Food and terrorism

Here's a story from the Washington Post which will get lost in all the debate coverage:

A few years ago, Congress passed and President Bush signed the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002. According to the Washington Post, it "requires companies importing food to give advance notice to the Food and Drug Administration about arriving shipments and to keep records of where the food came from and where it is going."

Sounds sensible. We ought to have some way to track shipments of food to ensure public health, right?

Initial regulations issued in the spring of 2003 by the FDA were tough, according to citizen and consumer groups. But they got watered down in the final draft issued in October 2003. Additional provisions have not been finalized or released yet, even though FDA was given only 18 months to finish. What happened?

Money and influence peddling, that's what.

Ten lobbyists representing grocery chains, big tobacco, meat processors, and the like met with Bush Administration regulators.

Then, Bush raised money from big agri-business and CEOs of supermarket empires, like Ranger Steven Burd from Safeway, who locked out union workers earlier this year in California. Burd's raised more than $200,000 for Bush.

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