Believing that the Food Safety Modernization Act will change farming practices more than first expected, the Food and Drug Administration is preparing an Environmental Impact Statement to evaluate the act’s produce safety rule.
The FDA also plans to determine the scope of the environmental analysis, and the whole process shouldn’t delay deadlines for the final rule, according to a news release.
The agency will take comments on the Environmental Impact Statement through Nov. 15 — when the comment period for the produce safety rule closes.
Comments from the industry and the FDA’s own analysis spurred the decision to conduct the environmental review, according to the release, because the rule could change the way fertilizer, pesticides and other inputs are used.
Some irrigation practices that use surface water are unlikely to meet the proposed microbial standards for much, if not all, of the growing season, according to the release.
“Consequently, if such standards are finalized, groundwater is likely to be explored as a more viable alternative water source for irrigation in these regions than previous information had indicated,” according to the FDA.
In addition to shifts in water use, the FDA said the proposed rule could result in changes in the way animal manure is used — and potentially restricted as a fertilizer. The proposed regulations “are expected to result in changes in current use of treated and untreated biological soil amendments of animal origin or potentially greater use of synthetic fertilizers,” according to the FDA.
Comments can be filed at http://www.regulations.gov, with docket No. FDA-2011-N-0921, according to the release.