Many sighed with relief when the lame-duck 111th Congress pulled itself together and, like passing a Capitol-sized kidney stone, finally got the ill-starred, much-discussed Food Safety Modernization Act done and signed into law by President Obama last week. At last, the nation’s food safety laws will get their first update in decades: the FDA will gets the authority to mandate food recalls, plus legions of new inspectors, and the power to raise the standards for imported foods, among other things.
The bill comes with a $1.4 billion price tag — chump change in federal budget land. But even that seems kinda like overkill for the safest food supply in the world, says Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), the incoming chair of the Agriculture subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, which has jurisdiction over the FDA. In this interview for Eye on FDA, a blog by a pharmaceutical industry lobbyist, Kingston blithely questions whether the FDA really needs any more power, and whether that’s too much money for the agency to absorb efficiently. After all, private companies do a heckuva job policing their own products. After all, it’s not good for business to be sickening and/or killing people, says Kingston.
[If I were Grist’s Dave Roberts, I’d embed a sound file here of tires SQUEALING and brakes SCREECHING, but you’ll just have to imagine it.]
WTF? Really??? Yes, folks, the much-compromised-on food safety bill, having survived countless attempts to kill it from both Democrats and Republicans, may simply get starved to death by the 112th Congress.
Watch and weep: