Friends:

On Monday night, the Senate is scheduled to vote on S510, the Food Safety Modernization Act. Eric Schlosser and I have collaborated on a New York Tiimes op ed piece explaining why this bill should be passed, now that it’s been amended to protect small farmers and food producers from costly new regulations. With the addition of the Tester Amendment, the legislation strikes a reasonable balance between the pressing need to more rigorously protect the safety of industrially produced food, as well as imported food, while at the same time assuring that the local food movement not be burdened unduly. In fact, the bill will exempt small farmers engaged in that marketplace, and also exempt them from some current Federal laws, including the 2002 terrorism act.  
There is a lot of disinformation on the internet claiming that S510 will criminalize home gardening and seed saving and bring the American food system under the control of Monsanto or the World Trade Organization. There is nothing in the bill that can be remotely interpreted to do any such things. Many urban legends have sprouted around this legislation, but they are just that: legends. A broad coalition of sustainable agriculture groups supports the amended bill before the Senate. Now, the challenge is to beat back a last-minute assault from a coalition of Big Ag groups, from the United Egg Producers to the American Meat Institute, who cite the Tester amendment as their justification for rejecting the most the important effort to improve food safety in a generation.  
I hope you’ll read out piece and decide where you stand– and then let your Senators know on Monday. It’s going to be close.
 
 

Sincerely,
Michael