The Senate recently passed Bill S 510, also known as the Food Safety Modernization Act. The bill, from the nickname, seems harmless enough, but this bill means more than its name implies. This bill will give the government jurisdiction over the growth, sale, trade and transport of foods in a way unlike any before. The passing of this bill would place full and total control over food into the hands of the federal government, and many people, farmers especially, are not happy about it.
This new bill will place a great deal of authority over farmers, and even freelance gardeners simply growing fruits and vegetables in their own backyards. Practices such as saving seeds for use the next year would be prohibited and doing so could result in a federal offense, punishable by fines and prison time. Some speculate that the practice of saving seeds is being banned in order to give seed companies, such as Monsanto, a monopoly over the seed industry.
One of the biggest groups of people to suffer are farmers. Farmers who provide food for their own families, as well as sell their crops at farmer’s markets, will now be subjected to the authority of the federal government in regards to their crops, and the sale, and even personal consumption, of said crops. You heard right; it would be against the law to consume food grown in your own garden without the federal government’s approval.
This bill affects not only the farmers, but gardening hobbyists, or those hoping to stretch their dollar and make ends meet with a summer garden. You could be committing a federal offense by enjoying some home-grown cucumbers, tomatoes or sweet peas. That apple tree that’s been in your backyard for the last decade? You better chop it down, because if you’re caught eating from it, you could face criminal charges.
This bill also turns food production into an unnecessary paperwork burden, which could quite possibly be full of fees. This paperwork burden, along with any fees incurred for the paperwork, could be enough to put small-time farmers completely out of business, and might even be too much for a family producing a garden for their own private use to afford.