Achieving the Food Safety Mandate: Bringing the USDA to the Table
47 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2012
Date Written: Fall 2011
As the lead article in the Hamline Journal of Public Law and Policy's symposium issue on "Sourcing Food: Finding Common Ground in an Age of Agricultural Competition and Conglomeration," this article focuses on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the need for expanding and redirecting its powers in the broader area of food safety in light of the first steps taken by the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). This new food safety mandate embodies a proactive policy that should generate special concern in the area of genetically modified foods, which are allowed under current U.S. law with no labeling, preapprovals, or post-market monitoring, warranting new evaluation and regulation. In particular, this article evaluates coexistence strategies for transgenic, conventional, and organic crops, which are currently under review by the USDA through its most recent advisory panel, and reveals flaws in the structure of these advisory panels. Evidence of agency inaction contrasts sharply with the FSMA and other recent Congressional initiatives. In view of the heightened concerns for food safety amidst recent incidents of contamination, the author proposes strengthening the role of the USDA in its partnership with other agencies and constituencies to carry out the mandate of achieving food safety.
Keywords: food and drug law, genetically modified organisms, GMOs, food safety, FSMA, Food Safety Modernization Act, FDA, USDA, APHIS, bioengineering, biotechnology, international law, international trade
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