More bread sought for nation's food security strategy


By Mark DeSorbo

ROCKVILLE, Md—The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is seeking an increase of $65 million for fiscal year 2005 to boost its food security activities—part of a new interdepartmental program for the defense of the nation's food supply.

The request is part of President Bush's FY 2005 budget proposal for FDA, which totals $1.8 billion. "This proposal represents the next step in our comprehensive food security strategy," FDA Commissioner Mark B. McClellan, M.D., Ph.D. says. "The additional resources will allow us to continue our efforts to give Americans the most protection possible from deliberate or accidental food risks." The requested increase, which would bring the total FDA counter-terrorism budget to $181 million, is designed to fund FDA's role in government-wide protections of the food supply that have been developed, in cooperation with the White House Homeland Security Council, by the FDA and the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and the Agricultural Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The biggest part of the increase— $35 million—would be used to increase the FDA's analytic surge capacity for biological, chemical and radiological threat agents by enhancing the Food Emergency Response Network (FERN). Once completed, FERN will encompass a nationwide network of Federal and State laboratories capable of testing the safety of thousands of food samples, thereby enhancing the Nation's ability to swiftly respond to a terrorist attack. Other budget allocations include:

  • $7 million is earmarked for increased FDA inspections of domestic and imported food to reduce the risk of contaminated products entering the United States market.
  • $3 million of the proposed increase is to be used to upgrade the agency's crisis management by boosting its capacity for rapid and coordinated response to a threat to the safety of the food supply.
  • $5 million to finance FDA's role in the government-wide bio-surveillance effort designed to provide the earliest possible detection of the intentional release of deadly pathogens into food, water, or the environment.