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Industry on President's Proposed 2009 Food Safety Budget: More Money Needed

WASHINGTON -- The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and the National Fisheries Institute here were distinctly underwhelmed by President Bush's 2009 FDA food safety budget proposal. The problem: A bigger investment is needed in FDA's food-related programs to permit the agency to carry out what GMA calls its "critical food safety mission."

"The president's proposal to increase FDA food-related spending by $32 million does little more than cover the cost of inflation and falls short of what is ultimately needed to make certain FDA has the tools it needs to get the job done," noted the trade group's president and c.e.o., Cal Dooley, in a statement. "However, we are confident that Congress will provide the necessary resources to rebuild FDA's scientific capacity."
Dooley urged the Bush Administration and Congress to boost FDA funding from general revenue and say no to any new food taxes, "especially at a time of economic uncertainty." He pointed out that although the United States has the world's safest food supply, rising imports and changing consumer preferences were a challenge for the food industry and FDA alike.
"The president's budget highlights the need for [FDA], funding but the National Fisheries Institute is disappointed that it does not go even further in its commitment," NFI said in a statement.

"HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt made an important first step in bolstering efforts to safeguard America's food supply when he proposed a comprehensive overhaul of import and food safety plans," added NFI president John Connelly. "The budgetary commitment we see today will enable the FDA to implement some, but not all, components of those plans, leaving the hard-working men and women at FDA once again underfunded."

Connelly expressed the hope that NFI could work with "the bipartisan group of lawmakers who are committed to seeing the FDA fully funded."
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