Writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, Reason Contributing Editor Carolyn Lochhead reports that farmers are destroying plants and wildlife in the name of food safety:
In the verdant farmland surrounding Monterey Bay, a national marine sanctuary and one of the world's biological jewels, scorched-earth strategies are being imposed on hundreds of thousands of acres in the quest for an antiseptic field of greens. And the scheme is about to go national.
Invisible to a public that sees only the headlines of the latest food-safety scare—spinach, peppers and now cookie dough—ponds are being poisoned and bulldozed. Vegetation harboring pollinators and filtering storm runoff is being cleared. Fences and poison baits line wildlife corridors. Birds, frogs, mice and deer—and anything that shelters them—are caught in a raging battle in the Salinas Valley against E. coli O157:H7, a lethal, food-borne bacteria….
Galvanized by the spinach disaster, large growers instituted a quasi-governmental program of new protocols for growing greens safely, called the "leafy greens marketing agreement." A proposal was submitted last month in Washington to take these rules nationwide.
A food safety bill sponsored by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles, passed this month in the House Energy and Commerce Committee. It would give new powers to the Food and Drug Administration to regulate all farms and produce in an attempt to fix the problem. The bill would require consideration of farm diversity and environmental rules, but would leave much to the FDA.