Share this article

The FDA Alliance, a coalition lobbying to increase funding for the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has expressed concern about the level of cash allocated to the agency for the 2008 fiscal year.

The lobby group said the US$1.7bn set aside by Congress for the FDA was “insufficient for FDA to fully fulfil its mission as the nation’s premier consumer protection agency”.

The criticism comes despite the funding being an almost 8% increase in the FDA’s budget.

“There is a critical need for the Agency to receive $2bn in FY 2008 budget authority, plus user fees, to restore the capacity that FDA had in FY 2003, just five years ago,” said FDA Alliance president Wayne Pines.

A former FDA commissioner has also publicly stated that he feels the organisation has suffered from a lack of funds. “FDA has long suffered from inadequate staffing and resources,” Don Kennedy, who served as FDA commissioner from 1977 to 1979, said.

Questions over the funding of the FDA come at a time when the agency’s effectiveness in protecting food safety in the US is under the spotlight.

Some politicians are calling for wholesale reform of how food safety is regulated in the light of recent food scares in the US and concerns over imports from China.

Senator Richard Durbin from Illinois has been campaigning for the integration of food safety into a single, coherent agency.

“Under current US law, food safety monitoring, inspection and labelling functions are spread across 12 federal agencies and sub-agencies and are governed by approximately 35 different laws,” Durbin told just-food last month.

“Under the current framework, turf battles, overlap, inconsistencies and coordination problems are inevitable. My legislation, the Safe Food Act, would create a single, independent food safety agency within the Executive Branch to administer and enforce food safety laws.”