NGFA: Make Codex Office independent
In the first sign that agribusiness leaders may have some reservations about the proposal to move the U.S. Codex Office from the Office of the Undersecretary for Food Safety to the Office of the Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, the National Grain and Feed Association on Oct. 9 urged Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to make Codex a stand-alone office reporting directly to the undersecretary rather than incorporate it within the Foreign Agricultural Service.
“We believe (this is) important to demonstrate that the U.S. Codex Office continues to be an advocate for science-based Codex policies and prudent and science-driven risk-assessment and risk-management measures focused on food safety,” NGFA said in comments on Perdue’s reorganization plan.
Agribusiness leaders have complained the process of setting food safety policy at the international Codex Alimentarius Commission has become politicized, and expressed hopes that moving the office will help the U.S. government take stronger positions in those policymaking sessions.
But critics, including the Food and Drug Administration and former USDA food safety officials, have said that moving the office to a division that promotes the sale of U.S. agricultural products may lead officials from other countries to take the position that the U.S. Codex Office is too close to industry.
In the 15-page letter, NGFA endorsed the administration’s plan to move the Federal Grain Inspection Service from the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration to the Agricultural Marketing Service and also moving the grain warehouse functions from the Farm Service Agency to AMS.