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Giant Food Companies Welcome the Regulatory State

September 17, 2007

Tags Big GovernmentInterventionismProduction Theory

"It's in our interest to have a strong FDA," said GMA (Grocery Manufacturers Association) President Cal Dooley, a former California congressman. "We need to have consumer confidence in the food products."

The Wall Street Journal reports (subscription only) that food growers, manufacturers, and grower groups are seeking tighter regulatory oversight. Why might that be? The answer they want you to believe is "an increasing awareness among industry executives that, with several major food-contamination cases recently shaking consumer confidence and damping sales, their push for greater deregulation is hurting themselves."

Meanwhile, the seafood industry is lobbying Congress for legislation that would require importers to register with the government and be certified before sending seafood to the U.S. It is also seeking to increase the FDA's funding next year by $200 million so its inspectors can travel overseas to examine plants. ...Complicating the situation is a rising flood of food imports from countries such as China, where regulation and enforcement have been criticized as spotty. While some calls by U.S. industries for tougher standards may be aimed at leveling the playing field with cheaper imports -- or may even be protectionist measures in disguise -- they underscore the challenges that U.S. companies face as they seek to ensure the safety of products from around the world.

Of course, this is more protectionism on the part of major food manufacturers who wish to keep out lower-priced foreign competition. So when China gets too close for comfort, all of a sudden the food industry corporate executives are singing the praises of regulation and claiming that it benefits them. Amongst all of these corporate giants, citizen special interests, and their crooked and power-hungry government pals, does the diminutive consumer even stand a chance?

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