In 2011, will you do jail time for trying to “Grow, Share, Trade or Sell Homegrown Food”? Or will you benefit from “significant and immediate public health gains”?

According to its harshest critics and most enthusiastic supporters, respectively, that’s what the Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510) will deliver if enacted into law. Well, we’re going to find out who’s right — if either — because the bill has completed a long saga by passing the House this week. If you’re keeping score at home, this latest triumph marks the third time a version of the food safety bill has passed the House. The previous two times, it became hopelessly snarled in various dysfunctions of the Senate. But this time, it will glide to President Obama’s desk and be signed into law.

Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free. All donations DOUBLED!

Well, I’m no seer, but I predict that the Act will end up flummoxing fans and foes alike — it will be neither the panacea promised by supporters or the scourge conjured up by critics. Just in case we haven’t burned enough electrons in the seven-part Food Fight on the topic, I’ll be diving into the details of the Act and talking to experts to tell you exactly what the new laws will and won’t do. Check back next week.


Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.