Liberty Commentary

Crisis. Safety. Regulate. Ban. You Lose, Corporate Interests Win.

by Karen De Coster

As always, it’s a crisis. Under the guise of “crisis” there is always a need for new government powers, new laws, “reforms”, and of course, “bold moves” on the part of empowered agents of the state. For instance, educated folks (like libertarians) have been aware of the Food Safety Modernization Act that is being pushed by federal powers and the usual parties – those corporate state interests who stand to benefit from the bill by shutting down competition deemed “unsafe”. The gaggle of supporters includes Big Agra, grocery stores, assorted food processors, farm groups supporting big farm interests, and of course, consumer groups. What most folks don’t know is that a “food crisis” has been declared by several people looking to curry favor for the legislation (’scuse me, that’s “sweeping legislation.”). This food crisis, just as every other crisis before it, demands immediate action on the part of those who were assigned the duty of protecting us from ourselves. One of the chief sponsors of the bill, Illinois Senator Richard Durbin, has declared that this legislation will “Help ensure that the food on America’s tables is safe.” Thank you Richard – how has my dinner table managed to stay safe all these years without your oversight and safety measures?

You can find several news pieces that try to explain the delay of the bill in the Senate (Wall Street Journal and the DesMoines Register), but the short translation is this: all parties are fighting over their respective favored recipients, and they are all hashing out deals deciding who is going to benefit from what, and how that can occur while making everyone fat and happy and pissing off no one. They are making deals on amendments to the bill. Now isn’t that a simple-but-brilliant interpretation?

Over at, one writer is so upset at the bill being stalled that she writes,“Watching C-Span’s live coverage of the Senate deliberations yesterday over the Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510) is enough to make me long for a dictatorship to move things along.” She is delighted that the very visible and heavy hand of Big Totalitarianism is going to smash the invisible hand of the free market and put an end to the current “crisis.”

On another similar note, the FDA is setting up to ban the sale of alcoholic energy drinks.

Over the last couple of years, there has been a growing national movement among state attorneys general, law enforcement agencies, college and university officials, and public health groups, who have called upon the manufacturers of AEDs to take them off the market. A food additive is presumed “unsafe” unless its particular use has been approved by federal regulation or is generally recognized as safe under the conditions of its intended use, said O’Brien.

This paragraph from the article was quite revealing:

“In combination with alcohol, caffeine is not generally recognized as safe, and it has never been approved for use in manufactured drinks other than in colas,” she said. Therefore, she adds, the burden of proof is on the manufacturer to prove that it is safe for its intended use based on published scientific literature.

So …… there’s no scientific evidence that alcohol & caffeine combos are unsafe, but it is “generally recognized” that this is so? And since the combo is generally recognized to be unsafe, it has never been formally approved by the government. Therefore, manufacturers of these drinks have the burden of proof as to the safety of their products? Do the manufacturers of genetically modified foods and processed foods have the same burden of proof?

The article goes on to clear up this conundrum.

A food additive is presumed “unsafe” unless its particular use has been approved by federal regulation or is generally recognized as safe under the conditions of its intended use, said O’Brien.

Thus for a product to be proven “safe” there must be scientific evidence, but the same product can be proven “unsafe” based on a lack of federal approval and “general recognition” on the part of lifestyle nazi bureaucrats who are waiting for the scientific proof that it’s safe?

p.s. – see my previous post on the Food Totalitarian Act.