Bush Proposes FDA Budget Increase

The Bush administration on Monday proposed a $2.4 billion budget for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in fiscal 2009, which, if approved by Congress, would be a 5.7 percent increase from fiscal 2008.

The FDA's food-safety program would also increase, to $662 million, up 6.8 percent from fiscal 2008.

"The FDA is committed to protecting and promoting the health of the American people," said FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach in a press release. "This budget enables us to continue development of the staff and the programs necessary to safeguard the food we eat."

The FDA says the $42 million budget increase for its food-safety program will allow it to implement components of the Import Safety Working Group's Food Protection Plan, which was released in November, and follow through with the food-safety agreements the United States signed with China in December. Formed last July, the Import Safety Working Group is headed by Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt.

The FDA is under increased pressure from Congress, consumer-advocacy groups and the media to crack down on imports of unsafe or counterfeit goods, particularly from China. Last June, the agency placed an import alert on five farmed-seafood species from China - shrimp, catfish, basa, eel and dace - due to the increased presence of illegal antibiotics and fungicides.


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