Friday, July 11, 2008

Bush regulatory policy

From the Denver Post
Clearly part of the problem is the Bush administration's deep-seated aversion to industry regulation. How else do you explain the weird scene last spring in which lawmakers peppered FDA Commissioner Andrew C. von Eschenbach with requests for a reasonable budget figure so the agency could do its job, and von Eschenbach's repeated evasions?
Eventually, von Eschenbach wrote a letter to Sen. Arlen Specter saying the agency needed an additional $275 million just to deal with imported food, drugs and medical devices. It's odd, to say the least, to breathe a sigh of relief when a bureaucrat finally asks for more money.
This current crisis has pointed out ways to improve the food regulatory system. Consumer groups have made some interesting regulatory suggestions, such as tagging produce at the site of origin — similar to the way produce is tagged now for the convenience of retailers — so it can be traced back to where it was grown.
In 2002, Congress passed country-of-origin labeling requirements, but agriculture sought and received exemptions, some of which expire later this year. Food safety advocates say Congress ought to take this opportunity to go further in labeling requirements.

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