Will the so-called “Monsanto bill,” HR 875 take away your access to healthy organic food? Find out the truth behind the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 and what YOU can do to protect your health.
Rumors have been circulating on the Internet in the past few weeks, sounding an alarm over a new federal bill that will presumably outlaw organic farming.
The so-called-Monsanto bill, HR 875, got its nickname because the Congresswoman who introduced it, Rosa DeLauro, is married to Stanley Greenberg, who has ties to Monsanto. Monsanto is a US-based multi-national agricultural biotechnology corporation most known for its herbicide, Roundup.
Don’t worry – the rumor of a “Monsanto bill” isn’t exactly true, and organic farming isn’t on the chopping block.
However, there ARE several important things to know about this bill, including how it will affect food regulation, the businesses of small farmers, and of course, your access to healthy and safe produce!
The bill, HR 875: The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009, is likely a response to recent food safety scares, such as the salmonella-poisoned peanuts and the E. coli-contaminated spinach back in 2006.
Much confusion has surrounded the meaning of the bill, which will probably go through several revisions before it reaches President Obama’s desk. Public outcry has showed up in blogs, mass emails and even YouTube videos).
So why is the legality of organic food such a controversial topic?
If you’ve been reading our newsletter for a while, you already know about the values of organic food.
Consuming locally grown, organic food not only protects you from hazardous toxins and pesticides used in many conventionally farming techniques, but it is also good for the environment.
Supporting sustainable agriculture and biodiversity ensures that you (and your children) will have access to safe, wholesome fruits and vegetables for years to come.
Food is certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Organic Program. There is only one level of certification – food can’t be “more” or “less” organic.
HR 875 In a Nutshell
Essentially, HR 875 aims to:
- Consolidate all food regulation under one umbrella agency, to be called the Food Safety Administration.
- Natural Health Advocate’s Concern: While the bill has good intentions – tougher regulations are certainly needed for big agribusiness – the new laws could make it far more difficult or even impossible for smaller producers to operate.
- ALL food establishments (including, by definition, farmers markets, vineyards and ranches) must register with the new administration and will be subject to random federal inspections.Technically, this applies to ANYONE who grows or produces food, even for their own use!
Natural Health Advocate’s Concern: HR 875’s SEC. 405. CIVIL AND CRIMINAL PENALTIES says:
(A) IN GENERAL- Any person that commits an act that violates the food safety law (including a regulation promulgated or order issued under the food safety law) may be assessed a civil penalty by the Administrator of not more than $1,000,000 for each such act.
Going Beyond the Legalese
Legal text can be daunting. So what does all this really mean?
Will you REALLY not be able to grow heirloom tomatoes and herbs in your backyard without a permit?
The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) and the Alliance for Natural Health (ANH) agree that food safety needs to improve. However, both are concerned about whether new control measures would really be effective without severely hurting small, local agriculture.
You can take action by telling Congress to revise HR 875 at the Organic Consumer’s Association link:http://capwiz.com/grassrootsnetroots/issues/alert/?alertid=12878056
According to the OCA’s action alert:
OCA does not support HR 875 in its present form, given the fact that, if the bill's regulations were applied in a one-size-fits-all manner to certified organic and farm-to-consumer operations, it could have a devastating impact on small farmers, especially raw milk producers who are already unfairly targeted by state food-safety regulators.
Although the OCA deems this bill somewhat well-intentioned, we are calling on Congress to focus its attention on the real threats to food safety: globalized food sourcing from nations such as China where food safety is a travesty and domestic industrial-scale and factory farms whose collateral damage includes pesticide and antibiotic-tainted food, mad cow disease, E. coli contamination and salmonella poisoning. And, of course, Congress and the Obama Administration need to support a massive transition to organic farming practices.1
To help each family with their own personal health...and in light of the current economic situation...our government should strongly encourage families to begin planting home gardens. PBS could offer online TV shows on how to plant organic gardens in your own backyard. Tax credits could be given to families who do this.
Schools with organic gardens are popping up all over the US. We need many more of these. Imagine how great it would be if your child’s school offered classes in organic gardening and the food that was grown was prepared in “home skills” classes and offered for lunch in the cafeteria.
What You Can Do to Protect Your Health
The HR 875 bill sounds complicated. But being an advocate for your own health is not!
Below are some things you can do to stay clear of pesticides, antibiotic-tainted food, mad cow disease and other awful ailments:
1. Buy organic whenever possible. If you cannot buy organic, it’s important to know that some foods are more likely to be contaminated than others. Here’s a list of foods that are highest in pesticide residues and therefore, especially important to buy organic (we’ve placed an * next to those foods that are NOT on the initial, healing stage of the Body Ecology diet)2
- Peaches* – Considered the worst! Contain high residues of iprodione, classified as a probable human carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and methyl parathion, an insecticide and endocrine disrupter. 3
- Bell peppers*
- Lemons – especially if zesting!
- Green beans
- Oats & Grains*
- Dairy* & Eggs
But, as we saw with the recent peanut scare that popped up, even in organic products, food borne illnesses can affect anyone.
In fact, a study by the Center for Disease Control found that 76 million illnesses result each year from food-borne diseases, in turn leading to an average of 5,200 deaths and 325,000 hospitalizations annually.4
In today’s modern world, you almost can’t escape toxins. Whether from stress, the environment or food, toxins can lower your energy and immunity. The good news is, nature has a secret weapon against toxins: probiotics. Probiotic-rich InnergyBiotic is a delicious way to boost your energy and immunity naturally.Find out more about InnergyBiotic and drink to your health today!
2. Strengthen your immunity with fermented foods and drinks. Probiotic-rich fermented foods and drinks are an incredible health secret in our modern world. They help protect you from toxins and pathogens and can even help is ease symptoms of food borne illness.
Probiotic liquids, like Young Coconut Kefir and InnergyBiotic add beneficial microflora, which help colonize your intestines to prevent infection. To find all of the health benefits of probiotic liquids and how to use them, read: The Eight Ultra-Healthy Uses of Probiotic Liquids.
3. Grow your own food! Produce picked straight from your backyard is the freshest produce you can obtain. Better yet, and you know exactly what went into it.
While many people have expressed concerns about the legality of their personal gardens, we can’t imagine that your windowsill basil plant will actually be subject to federal inspection!
4. Know your grower – buy local. Let’s face it, some of us don’t have the time or space to grow our own gardens, even if we want to. Instead, buy local. Participating in farmers markets, community supported agriculture (CSA), health food co-ops and other direct farm-to-consumer methods are great ways to meet the men and women who grow and raise your produce, dairy and meat.
Plus, you’ll be supporting your local economy and the farmers who may soon have to contend with strict and pricey regulation standards. It’s a win-win, for both the health of your body and the health of your community.
5. Learn about detoxification. In today’s modern world, with pesticides and toxins in our food, water and the environment, it’s important to detoxify. Most people don’t know how and when to detoxify...and after thousands of requests for training, Body Ecology founder Donna Gates is has created a convenient, affordable detoxification training that you can attend online!
Join Donna Gates and her team of medical and natural health experts for Body Ecology’s Detoxification Training. Stay tuned for more information, coming next week.
We are grateful to see that so many people are concerned about access to healthy, organic food and we applaud you for taking action for your best health!
- Organic Consumers Association Action Alert: http://capwiz.com/grassrootsnetroots/issues/alert/?alertid=12878056
- Environmental Working Group’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides: http://www.foodnews.org/methodology.php
- Consumer Reports: When Buying Organic Pays (And Doesn’t): http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/food/diet-nutrition/organic-products/organic-products-206/when-buying-organic-pays-and-doesnt/index.htm
- Mead PS, Slutsker L, Dietz V, McCaig LF, Bresee JS, Shapiro C, Griffin PM, Tauxe RV. Food-related illness and death in the United States. Emerg Infect Dis. 1999 Nov-Dec;5(6):840-2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10511517?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum
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