Nov 19, 2010
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
Russell Senate Office Building, Room 478
Constitution and Delaware Avenues, NE
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Gillibrand,
I am deeply concerned that Sen. Leahy’s Food Safety Accountability Act of 2010 (S. 3767) may be included in or attached to the Food Safety Bill (S. 510), either via the manager’s amendment package or as a floor amendment.
I was dismayed to read the original language of S. 3767, which contained new and draconian ten-year jail terms for adulterating or misbranding food. This was unacceptable because of the way the FDA interprets the words “adulterating” and “misbranding.” You could have gone to jail for ten years just for citing scientific research from leading universities about your food product!
I was pleased to learn that the bill has been amended. It now says you don’t go to jail for up to ten years unless you “consciously or recklessly disregard a risk of death or serious bodily injury.”
This is better, but unacceptably vague and subjective. Actual harm should be required for such a long jail term. In addition, this amendment included new language which both specifically targeted supplements and made a lapse in filing to the FDA subject to the full ten-year jail term (see the reference to subsection V of Section 301 of the Federal Food and Drug Act). Paperwork violations should not lead to ten years in jail or threats of such jail terms. Why was this new language added? How can it possibly be justified?
Senators are currently editing S. 510 behind closed doors, as they draft the Manager’s Amendment Package, which may be substituted in place of the current Food Safety bill. It could include the Leahy bill language, and the public may not have an opportunity to review such changes before the Senate votes. If changes are made, both the Senate and the public ought to have notice of them and a chance to comment before a vote.
As one of your constituents, I want you to know that I take dietary supplements regularly, and value their help in keeping my family healthy. The Leahy bill, even after improvement in some respects, is still a misguided attempt to protect our food supply or ensure the safety of supplements. There is still too much risk that natural product makers will be threatened, silenced, and penalized.
At this point, I wonder if it will soon be necessary to obtain a medical permit to buy carrots, because carrots are full of Vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene, which supports excellent eye health, among other benefits. If I buy carrots and support my eyes, I will not buy some expensive, harmful medication to do that–and Big Pharma loses money. Clearly this bill is the foot soldier of the big pharmaceutical companies, who are out to eradicate competition to their expensive and side-effect laden drugs. Only Big Pharma stands to gain from this bill–which is why they have paid Senators so much money to craft it. The American consumer will not be helped by this so-called “food safety” bill, they will be hurt by it.
If the United States Government wants to protect the American consumer, they will overhaul the FDA, which is a thoroughly corrupt institution and a shill for the chemical, pharmaceutical, bio-tech, and medical establishment industries.
Please oppose inclusion of the Leahy bill and its draconian jail terms in the Food Safety bill!
Ms. Traci Slatton
New York, NY
Nov 19, 2010