Two New Critical Senate Bill Amendments—Action Alerts!June 12, 2012
One of these amendments we have seen before. It must be stopped. The other one we wholeheartedly support.
Every five years, Congress reauthorizes the Farm Bill. It sets agriculture (and nutrition) policy for the nation. It is always a “must pass” piece of legislation—and because of that, legislators tend to offer tag-along amendments that may have nothing to do with agriculture in the expectation that they will be passed along with the bill.
Of the over eighty amendments being offered to this year’s Farm Bill, there are two of particular interest to supporters of natural health. One is very, very bad, while the other is very, very good.
The first amendment, offered by Sen. Patrick Leahy, is a revival of Leahy’s disastrous anti-supplement bill that passed in the Senate last year but which we have so far stopped in the House. The language of this amendment is exactly the same as that original bill. Attaching the same text to a “must-pass” bill may the only way his language can become law—unless you take action to stop it.
The amendment would increase criminal penalties for “misbranding” or “adulterating” foods to a maximum of one year in jail to ten years’ imprisonment.
To our ears, “adulterated” means that the food itself is somehow tainted or injurious to health, or contains an ingredient that presents a significant or unreasonable risk of illness. And “misbranded” suggests deliberate misstatements about the efficacy of a product.
In FDA-speak, however, these words take on completely different meaning. For example, a food or supplement may be “adulterated” if it does not follow “current good manufacturing practices” (CGMPs), which are extremely wide ranging—and include minor recordkeeping violations. “Misbranded” can mean that the producer makes a completely true statement about the product but without FDA permission. A cherry producer who cites peer-reviewed scientific research from prestigious universities on the health benefits of cherries would, in FDA-speak, have engaged in “false” and actionable “misbranding” which suddenly turns the cherries into drugs.
The dramatic increase in jail time and fines will make supplement production an even riskier proposition than it is today. To his credit, Leahy listened to our objections and added some additional language. The ten-year jail term would apply to those who “knowingly and intentionally defraud or mislead” and do so “with conscious or reckless disregard of a risk of death or serious bodily injury.” But this language is subjective and vague. Whether anyone meets these criteria would be determined solely by FDA. People shouldn’t be put in jail for a decade because of how a biased party rates their intentions; it should be because of their actions.
You also have to understand how the FDA operates. Its most favored tactic is to send in armed agents who terrify everyone. Then the intimidation escalates. The agents say that the producer, whether a supplement producer or raw milk producer, could spend years in jail. To avoid this, just sign a “consent decree” which among other things will probably require hiring former employees of the FDA at extremely high rates to monitor everything. Huge reports will have to be filed and if anything falls short, then the jail terms can be triggered.
Would the FDA assert that a seller of raw milk is knowingly and intentionally disregarding risk of death? Of course they would. So the ten-year jail threat would apply.
Action Alert! Please contact your senators today and express your strong opposition to Sen. Leahy’s anti-supplement amendment. Take action now.
Speaking of raw milk, the second amendment, offered by Sen. Rand Paul, would allow for the interstate transport and sale of unpasteurized milk. While some states have passed legislation allowing raw milk to be sold within that state, it is against federal law to sell raw milk across state lines. This has permitted the FDA to pursue its current vendetta against raw milk producers and go after farmers like Daniel Allgyer for allegedly selling milk across borders.
Sen. Paul’s amendment would change that situation. It reads, in part, “A Federal department, agency, or court may not take any action (such as administrative, civil, criminal, or other actions) that would prohibit, interfere with, regulate, or otherwise restrict the interstate traffic of milk, or a milk product, that is unpasteurized and packaged for direct human consumption.”
As we have reported previously, raw (unpasteurized) milk is safe, extremely nutritious, and has been shown to be superior to pasteurized milk for protecting against disease.
Action Alert! Please contact your senators today and voice your strong support for Sen. Paul’s raw milk amendment. Take action now.