Currently, there appears to be much concern and some misinformation circulating on the Internet about several proposed pieces of federal legislation on food safety. The Organic Trade Association (OTA) supports governmental action to address the safety of the U.S. food supply.
OTA appreciates consumer concern and support for organic production and products. OTA’s mission is to promote and protect the growth of organic trade to benefit the environment, farmers, the public, and the economy. Furthermore, its vision is to have organic products be a significant part of everyday life, enhancing people’s lives and the global environment.
One fear being expressed by consumers about the bills now being proposed is that they will make it illegal to grow backyard gardens and will be the death of organic farming.
The fact is that there is no language to regulate, penalize or shut down backyard gardens, nor to stop organic farming. The proposed Food Safety Modernization Act only addresses food safety issues under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The National Organic Program is actually under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Each annual session of Congress, approximately 15,000 pieces of legislation are proposed on the federal level, with only 2 percent becoming law. Any legislation on food safety will take time. Thus, nothing will happen over night, and there will be a time and a place for public comment.
OTA’s Executive Director Christine Bushway has announced OTA will be forming a Food Safety Task Force to thoroughly analyze the impact of any food safety legislation being proposed, and will advise the industry and governmental bodies on recommendations that promote and protect organic agriculture and products and improve food safety.