● This week provided a spike of activity on three major agricultural policy fronts: food safety, immigration reform, and the Farm Bill. The time to comment on proposed food safety rules will likely be extended by 120 days, according to a top official at the Food and Drug Administration; a compromise bi-partisan immigration bill (S. 744) was introduced in the U.S. Senate; and, it appears that Farm Bill hearings will be scheduled for mid-May in the House Agriculture Committee.
● Obscuring all policy events in Washington, D.C. was the Boston Marathon bombing. As quick as the two flashes at the race’s finish line, the public’s attention shifted to Boston. Whenever such deadly harm to innocent people purposely occurs, it reminds one of the continual need to keep notions of theoretical risk in some kind of balance. Suddenly, concerns over parts per billion of an authorized chemical’s residue on food seem pale.
● The Produce Marketing Association announced on Tuesday that Dr. Jim Gorny would be joining its staff as vice president of food safety and technology. He presently is a highly respected senior advisor on food safety at the Food and Drug Administration. This is interesting: Coupled with both the continuing presence on staff of Dr. Bob Whitaker and PMA’s strong support for the Center for Produce Safety, it serves to propel PMA well past its competitor association, the United Fresh Produce Association, in terms of effective assets devoted to food safety.
● The Organic Consumers Association, an advocacy group with the modest goal of “Campaigning for Health, Justice, Sustainability, Peace, and Democracy,” is calling for a public demonstration in Chicago on April 23 to protest — “To upset the biotech apple cart…”– the “Arctic Apple,” whose developer, Okanagan Specialty Fruits, Inc., is being given an award for this GMO product at the 2013 BIO International Convention.