By Rady Ananda
A few hours ago, the Food and Drug Administration declared it no longer needs credible evidence to seize food that may be contaminated. Ignoring the Fourth Amendment entirely, the FDA claims that based on mere suspicion that a food product has been contaminated or mislabeled, and that serious illness or death will result, it can hold the food for 30 days while it then looks for evidence. It claims this power under the Food Safety Modernization Act, which President Obama signed in January.
On May 4th, the FDA stated:
“Previously, the FDA’s ability to detain food products applied only when the agency had credible evidence that a food product presented was contaminated or mislabeled in a way that presented a threat of serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals.
"Beginning July, the FDA will be able to detain food products that it has reason to believe are adulterated or misbranded for up to 30 days, if needed, to ensure they are kept out of the marketplace. The products will be kept out of the marketplace while the agency determines whether an enforcement action such as seizure or federal injunction against distribution of the product in commerce, is necessary."
Credible evidence no longer applies, it seems.
The Fourth Amendment states:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
FDA thinks it can engage in search and seizure willy nilly. They've already been doing this, of course -- but only at natural food facilities. Factory farms like DeCosta Eggs can sicken thousands of people over a period of years, without ever being shut down or having its product seized or destroyed. But, if you raise natural foods without pasteurizing them or adulterating them with drugs and genetically modified ingredients, even though no one becomes ill from your product, then be assured, the FDA will seize your products, your computers, your paperwork, and shut you down.
Most recently, the FDA shut down Pennsylvania farmer Dan Algyer, though no one became ill from his natural milk. Morningland Cheese and Estrella Family Creamery are but two more in a long line of victims of the corporate war on natural food, though their products sickened no one. And most of the nation knows of the armed raid on Rawesome Foods last year. (Also see David Gumpert's book, The Raw Milk Revolution: Behind America's Emerging Battle Over Food Rights.)
In the May 2011 edition of the Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine (hat tip FTCLDF), Greg Breining summarizes the issues in MILK vs milk: Do consumers have the right to choose? Well, of course we do. Food freedom is as inalienable as the right to breathe. The freedom to eat the food with which humans evolved is requisite to our survival as individuals and as a species. Thomas Jefferson agrees:
“Was the government to prescribe to us our medicine and diet, our bodies would be in such keeping as our souls are now.”
That's often paraphrased as: “If people let the government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.”
Another rule announced by the FDA requires importers to declare if any nation refused their food or feed product for any reason, and to give the reason. Both rules go into effect July 3, 2011.
Read the new FDA rules here.