July 13, 2009

Food safety measures or scorched earth policy?

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The words “food safety” conjure images of mouldering ground beef and bags of contaminated spinach. But in California — and, if proposed federal regulations are approved, nationwide — “food safety” should summon another set of images: bulldozed ponds and trees, bare dirt acreage, and dead owls poisoned along with the farmers’ unwanted rodents in their bellies.

The federal campaign to reduce food safety scares is leading to farming practices that reduce biological diversity, destroy crops and ponds, poison aquifers, threaten habitat and defy known science. Carolyn Lochhead of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that industrial agriculture supporters and large produce buyers are using the push for food safety to squelch biologically diverse farming methods.

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