- The Washington Times - Friday, July 19, 2013

The editorial “Oppressing the farmers,” (July 15) provides readers with a misleading picture of the Food Safety Modernization Act and produce safety standards that the FDA has proposed to fulfill this congressional mandate. These foundational standards demonstrate our commitment to making food safer by putting prevention first.

To accomplish this, we are working with farmers to develop a rule that is both practical and adaptable to a wide diversity of growing operations. FDA’s targeted approach is focused on crops that are potentially vulnerable to contamination. In fact, the editorial failed to note that nearly 80 percent of produce farms, mostly smaller ones, will be exempt from the proposed standards due to both statutory exemptions and FDA’s analysis of what is needed for food safety. Meanwhile, the standards will cover 90 percent of acres planted with crops potentially vulnerable for contamination.

Our proposal is practical because it targets recognized hazards and potential pathways of contamination. It is adaptable because it provides farmers flexibility in how they put in place food safety measures (such as water used for irrigation and raw manure applied to produce fields) at critical points.

We have learned from experience that food safety and farmers’ economic well-being go hand in hand.

MICHAEL TAYLOR

Deputy commissioner, foods and veterinary medicine

U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Silver Spring