Flood of Comments First Step Towards Correcting Proposed FSMA Food Safety Rules

Mark Keating's picture

By Mark Keating, OFRF Policy Advisor

              We knew the stakes were high and apparently lots of other folks agreed. http://www.wisfarmer.com/news/headlines/fsma-comes-under-fire-b99150917z1-233454541.html By last week’s close of the public comment period on the FDA’s proposed regulations to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), more than 20,000 farmers, concerned consumers and grassroots organizations had weighed in.  A big THANK YOU to everyone for making your voices heard as this monumental process moves forward – you are making a major difference.

              Just how great a difference is reflected in some of the very potent comments from members of Congress who keep hearing from their constituents that the FDA must get these regulations right.  For example, twenty-three members of the Congressional Organic Caucus wrote to challenge the FDA’s proposed requirements addressing applications of compost and aged manure. http://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/congress-fsma-letters/?utm_source=roundup&utm_medium=emailr The members noted that complying with the proposal – for which the FDA “fails to establish a scientific basis” – could “effectively eliminate” organic farmers’ ability to use these nutrient sources.  Their comments pointedly concluded that “In the final rule, the FDA must meet the statutory requirements set forth in FSMA to not conflict with or duplicate the requirements for certified organic production.”

            Borrowing from Churchill, wrapping up the FSMA comment period isn’t the beginning of the end, but more the end of the beginning. The FDA is required by law to consider the merit of every comment and with the complexity of the issues involved, it could easily be a year or more before we see a formal response.  There is the possibility that the FDA will release a second draft proposal for further public comment before moving to issue final regulations.

           The bottom line is that organic, local and sustainable farmers and those who support them have taken up this challenge together, and we’re in it for the long haul. Look for future updates from OFRF as news on FSMA develops.

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