Joan R. Rothenberg

on February 7, 2000, President Clinton introduced the Administration’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2001. The following are some of the food-related programs included in the proposed budget.

U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. USDA’s Agricultural Research Service would receive a $64 million boost over last year’s levels to a total of $894 million, and the Economic Research Service would be funded at $55 million. ARS and ERS conduct a broad range of food, farm, and environmental research programs.

The Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service would receive $469 million for grants for its research and education programs, including $150 million for the National Research Initiative. CSREES provides grants for agricultural, food, and environmental research and higher education. NRI competitive research grants improve the quality and increase the quantity of USDA’s farm, food, and environmental research.

The proposed budget would also include increases for research in bioenergy and bioproduct human nutrition, food safety, air and water quality, food quality protection, agricultural genomes and genetics, invasive species, and emerging and exotic diseases.

Food and Drug Administration. The budget request for FDA totals $1,391 million, including industry-specific user fees. This 13% increase is focused on assuring the safety of FDA-regulated products, improving food safety, and addressing bioterrorism.

Funds would be provided to complete the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System, which is used to detect and respond to outbreaks of foodborne illness by identifying emerging antimicrobial resistance among foodborne pathogens. Working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, FDA will add national and international data collection sites and monitor additional pathogens. This expansion will provide information essential in regulating the use of antibiotics in food animals.

The proposed budget would include $43 million over two years to replace the dilapidated Los Angeles regional laboratory facility, which performs 23% of FDA’s food analyses each year; a $5 million increase to move the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition into a new facility at the University of Maryland in College Park; and a $5 million increase for, among other things, a new regional laboratory in New York.

The budget includes $19.5 million as proposed user fees—$8.4 million for food additive petitions, $5.8 million for medical devices, and $5.3 million for food export certifications. The fees for food additives are designed to enable FDA to reduce review times for new products. The proposal also calls for food exporters to cover FDA certification costs, as drug and device exporters do.

Food Safety Initiative. The interagency Food Safety Initiative would receive a $68 million increase (19%) over FY 2000, for a total of $422 million. This includes an additional $30 million to allow FDA to conduct annual inspections of all high-risk food establishments, expand the number of imported food exams, and complete the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System.

This funding would also increase laboratory testing capacity; improve research and risk assessment (particularly regarding antimicrobial resistance in animals and animal feeds and methods for predicting risk associated with foodborne pathogens); and expand surveillance and education activities.

A $10 million increase would allow CDC to enhance PulseNet, the national network of public health laboratories capable of sub-typing foodborne pathogen DNA for rapid response to disease outbreaks, and public education efforts.

USDA’s $28 million increase would extend risk assessment modeling and data collection to include the pre-harvest phase for all foods, expand education activities, and support bioscience research to develop effective methods of handling and treating agricultural products to minimize microbial contamination. Funding is also included for FDA and USDA to begin implementation of the Egg Safety Action Plan, adopted by the President’s Council on Food Safety in December 1999.

Bioterrorism. The budget proposes an increase of $18.5 million for medical and public health response and preparedness related to potential terrorist use of biological and chemical weapons. The increase would support 25 new local health-care response systems, for a total of 97 systems by the end of 2001. These activities are part of a broader multi-agency effort to address counter-terrorism.

Research. To augment the programs listed above, the President, in his State of the Union Address, proposed a $2.8 billion (7%) increase in the “21st Century Research Fund.” The increase would include $1 billion for biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health, an increase for the National Science Foundation that would be the largest in its history, and major interagency initiatives in information technology and nanotechnology.

by Joan R. Rothenberg is IFT’s Congressional Science Fellow, working in the Washington, D.C., office of Congressman Rush Holt. Prior to her fellowship, she was Senior Manager of Equipment/Product Development at Starbucks Coffee Co., Seattle, Wash.

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  1. Food Policy