Senate Trying To Give FDA More Power

Last week the Senate cooked up a Scooby Snack for the FDA. The Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee unanimously approved a bill that will make the FDA run around all hyper and bestow it with super strength and ghost-catching ability, the LA. Times reports, though not in those words.

Andrew Zajac writes:

The measure, like one passed in the House, would significantly upgrade the FDA’s regulatory powers — giving the agency the power to order a food recall instead of merely requesting that a producer institute one. In its version of the bill, the Senate panel added whistle-blower protections and unspecified grants to states to beef up food safety capabilities. It also would require the government to take into account organic agricultural standards and other factors when writing food safety rules.

The legislation is on the backburner for now as the Senate tries to get its act on health care together, but should come to the floor next year.

Senate committee approves food safety bill [L.A. Times]
(Thanks, NORMLgirl!)


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  1. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    giving the agency the power to order a food recall instead of merely requesting that a producer institute one.

    Now THAT should be interesting. Expect some serious lobbying against that one.

    It also would require the government to take into account organic agricultural standards…

    I thought the problem with organic is that there are no standards.

    • Lonetree says:

      Organic has defined standards.

      it’s “Natural” and others that are self-declared.

    • ARP says:

      I also think they mean that the FDA should look to how organic farms operate when setting rules. Meaning, providing enough space for chicken to stand up and move around, exposure to fresh air, hormone and antibiotic levels, use of pesticides and fertilizer, etc. So, while they may not require food factories to be “organic,” it may require them to observe some minimum standards to prevent some of the food issues we face due to factory farms.

  2. ArcanaJ says:

    Finally, the FDA will have some teeth!

  3. Hi says:

    First off I think there is a lot wrong with how things are going related to the food industry but giving more power to the federal government is not the answer.

    Why does the FDA need more power? The states are supposed to regulate on their own. Do you know what “unspecified grants to states” means? It means they will give states money if they give up certain powers to the federal government. We’ve seen this done with the cell phone texting laws (source link below). It’s the same deal. The states have the authority over the federal government but the federal government keeps pushing for more and more power. This is not a good thing and will only cause more problems. They want to give more power to the same people who have corrupted the system. Just google FDA corruption.

    • ARP says:

      When food passes across state borders (and it often does), then it goes beyond a state’s soverignty and we’re easily in ICC territory. Also, if you’re a free-marketer at all costs, then there’s no issue with the grants. Nobody is forcing the states to give up the power in exchange for the grants, they made their choice that they want Federal money. Nobody forces us to sign up for crappy credit card or mobile service terms. If you’re free market, the free market needs to apply all around.

      I Googled FDA corrpution and it appears that most of the reports are from the Bush II years. Bush was a fervent anti-regulation person and stripped the power of most agencies and let industry regulate itself. So, what you’re asking for seems to be the very source of the problem we’re having now (unsafe medications, tainted foods, etc.). Of course a party that hates government isn’t going to do a good job. That’s been proven over and over again with Reagan and Bush II.

      • Hi says:

        That’s just not true and this has nothing to do with being republican or democrat. I don’t get into blaming parties it’s all a distraction from the real issue.

        Food is crossing states borders and states still have authority over their borders and can regulate without federal intervention.

        The FDA corruption has more to do with corporations (like the case with big pharma) filling the pockets of corrupt FDA officials in exchange for new laws. Laws should not be made this way. Laws should be made in the interest of the people and not for the special interests or corporations or party lines.

        I never stated anything about self-regulation or de-regulation (which is what Reagan/Bush/Clinton/Bush/Obama is doing) but again the states have the power to regulate themselves without federal intervention.

        The federal government has failed at every attempt at regulating. They can’t even regulate themselves let alone the food/drug industry. Look at all the recalls, unsafe medications, tainted foods, corruption, etc… thats because the FDA is not doing their job. You want to give more power to an organization who has consistantly failed and continues to fail over and over again lining their pockets in a sea of corruption. It makes no sense.

        • ARP says:

          What I mean my crossing state lines is that you’re now talking about Interstate Commerce and the general health of members of more than one state. In my view, this is exactly where the Federal Government should be involved. I’m not a “tenther,” so I do think things like National Parks, the EPA, the FDA, and similar agencies should exsit.

          I know injecting party politics into the discussion creates a flame war, but there’s no way around it. Conservatives has a less government at all costs attitude in this arena and a statistically significant number of issues have happened under conservative control. But simply being “on their watch” isn’t enough to place blame. However, actively cutting budgets, authority, allowing companies to self report the results of drug tests, etc. is enough in my mind. You wanted Food and drug makers to “regulate themselves,” you got it, and many of the problems we’re facing with unsafe food and drugs.

          As far as the governments ability to regulate, that’s a much larger discussion, but my view is that if you give an agency, a good law, with proper authority, and enough budget, they do a good job and at much lower costs than private industry. You can’t starve an agency, given it contradictory instructions, no authority and giant legal loopholes, and then get angry when they can’t do their job properly. This is actually a tactic that’s used all the time to justify privatization or self-regulation.

          I agree with you that private industry has far too much influence over laws and policy of all parties, but putting it to the states will only create a patchwork of contradictory laws (resulting in higher costs) or “safe haven” states where food and drug companies will operate with impunity.

    • Trai_Dep says:

      Stop electing Conservatives to run the FDA, then.

  4. vladthepaler says:

    Kind of ironic that they’re putting the FDA on hold to fight about health care. If the FDA were empowered to protect people from bad food, that’d be quite a savings on health care costs.

    • cerbie_the_orphan says:

      …but it would increase the costs to farmers, and various food processors, thus making food more expensive. We wouldn’t want safer food, if it cost more, would we?

  5. Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

    “Oh noooes…teh SOCIALISM!!!!11ELEVENS” First!

  6. H3ion says:

    The problem is less increasing the authority of the FDA than the FDA using the authority that it has. There are no reasons for ineffective or harmful medicines to reach the market if the FDA was using its existing power and food recalls, while great press, are only a very small part of the FDA’s mandate. What they need more are some high level employees with guts who will take on the drug and supplement industries.