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The Wall Street Journal reports that the Bush administration has decided to support legislation that would give the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) explicit authority over imported food and drugs.

According to the Journal, “The FDA has been hobbled in its enforcement of imports even as the number of products entering the U.S. has skyrocketed.”

In a letter to GOP lawmakers, Health & Human Services (HHS) Secretary Mike Leavitt wrote, “Foreign firms can often deny U.S. officials access to their facilities without any adverse consequences … Such an amendment would better enable FDA to address criminal conduct that occurs entirely outside of the United States and threatens the health and safety of consumers within the United States.”

KC's View:
It would appear to be a simple proposition – if you want to export your products to the US, you have to give US officials access to your facilities. Though I suppose there are all sorts of other geopolitical considerations that go into whether some governments will get pressured and others will not.

While it pains me to do so, it seems important to point out that the US isn’t particularly good at inspecting domestic facilities – though it seems likely that this more a matter of an overburdened and inefficient infrastructure rather than any sort of malevolence. (Though I’d guess that there are more than a few people who would disagree with that assessment.)

There are moments when proposals and amendments and policy shifts seem like so much noise, designed primarily to convince the citizenry that problems actually are being addressed by the government, that things actually can get better. But in the darkness of my soul, I remain abidingly skeptical.