FDA worried about USDA plan to move Codex office
The Food and Drug Administration said the agriculture department did not consult with the FDA before announcing it would move the U.S. Codex Office from the Office of the Undersecretary for Food Safety and to the new Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs.
“FDA was recently informed of the decision to move the Codex office and notified USDA of concerns with the proposal,” an FDA spokesperson said in an email.
“We will be sharing FDA’s view in more detail as part of written comments to USDA and we look forward to working with them to address these issues. We will evaluate whether FDA needs to adapt the agency’s relationship to Codex pending the final outcome of USDA’s decision.”
The Codex Office handles relations with the Codex Alimentarius Commission, a United Nations agency that writes the Codex Alimentarius, or “Food Code,” a collection of standards, guidelines and codes of practice.
The Codex Alimentarius Commission is a joint project of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization to protect consumer health and promote fair practices in food trade.
For FDA to take a public position different from USDA is extremely unusual.
Agribusiness companies have filed a joint letter supporting the move, but food safety advocates, including former USDA officials, have said the move will make it difficult for the United States to convince officials from the United Nations and other countries that U.S. Codex officials are independent from industry.
As Politico said in an article earlier today, “Critics contend that the optics are especially bad because Trump has nominated Ted McKinney, a former director of global corporate affairs for Elanco, a major veterinary pharmaceutical company, to run the new trade mission at USDA. Some of the biggest fights within Codex have been over Elanco products, including ractopamine, a growth-promoting drug primarily used in pork and beef production, and rbST, an injectable drug used to boost milk production in dairy cows.”
McKinney promised at his Senate Agriculture Committee confirmation hearing that he would make the defense of U.S. positions in Codex a priority.
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