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● The Food Safety Modernization Act calls for the Food and Drug Administration to issue a fresh produce safety rule by January 4, 2012. We are now gearing up to provide a thoughtful industry response to what is likely to be a lengthy and complicated document.● Tom Stenzel, president of the United Fresh Produce Association, has informed us that FDA Deputy Commissioner  Mike Taylor plans to be in San Diego on January 25 to brief participants at United’s winter leadership meetings on the proposed produce safety regulation. Debbie Carter, the Northwest Horticultural Council’s technical issues manager, and I plan to be in San Diego in late January for United’s meetings: she is a member of United’s Food Safety & Technology Council, while I serve on its Government Relations Council.

● After nearly two decades of effort, Russia was accepted on December 16 in Geneva, Switzerland, as a new member of the World Trade Organization. However, the United States is not in a position to benefit from this trade policy breakthrough until it deactivates the Jackson-Vanik amendment. This Cold War-era  law is a human rights legacy of the late Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson (Democrat, Washington), which, when passed, had as its main aim the placement of economic pressure on the USSR’s benighted régime to permit its citizens the right to emigrate to Israel.

● “A Manifesto for Sustainable Capitalism” co-authored by former vice-president Al Gore appeared on the Op/Ed page in the December 14 issue of The Wall Street Journal. The headline term is defined as “a framework that seeks to maximize long-term economic value by reforming markets to address real needs while integrating environmental, social, and governance (ESG) metrics throughout the decision-making process.” ● The 18th century lexicographer, Dr. Samuel Johnson, would have called Mr. Gore’s definition cant.

POLITICAL FRUIT: “But here’s what was significant about the vote yesterday—it had 89 votes. The  compromise to extend the payroll tax on unemployment for 60 days into next year had 90 percent support. The only things that get 90 percent support in the United States Senate these days are mom, apple pie, and chocolate ice cream.” Gene Sperling on State of the Union with Candy Crowley, CNN, December 18, 2011.