After years and a growing amount of citizen petitions from members of the public, FDA is holding a "virtual public meeting" on February 9, 2023 to discuss their ongoing relationship with AAFCO. As we know, AAFCO is a collection of public regulators who FDA refers to as their "regulatory partners". These public regulators are creating regulations and law in private, and those regulations are specifically designed for products in FDA regulatory jurisdiction. In addition to holding the public meeting, FDA is accepting electronic or written comments through March 9, 2023. To electronically submit comments to the docket, visit regulations.gov and type “FDA-2022-N-3122” in the search box.While calendar records reveal FDA-CVM employees found an abundance of time to personally meet with lobbying groups over the years, many citizens have reported that FDA-CVM has completely ignored dozens (or possibly hundreds) of their questions over the past few years. For those that have been ignored by FDA-CVM on questions relating to FDA's involvement of making regulations with this private corporation, you can submit your questions in the docket above. If you wish to request FDA-CVM address your questions directly in their February meeting, citizens are free to e-mail FDA-CVM employees directly. FDA employees who are most involved in this private corporation AAFCO is Charlotte Conway, Steven Solomon, Eric Nelson, and David Edwards. It may be beneficial to also include Anne Norris, Tracey Forfa, Tim Schell, Robert Califf, Judy McMeekin, and Barbara Cassens. Email information can be found here: https://www.aafco.org/Regulatory/State-Information/FDA
What is significant about this announcement is FDA's admission that they're making regulations in private with their state partners. FDA and state regulatory partners have many ways of trying to manipulate the public into thinking otherwise. Some state regulators have attempted to call what AAFCO does "standards", not regulations. Some AAFCO representatives have attempted to state AAFCO creates "model regulations". FDA has now admitted "AAFCO’s ingredient definitions are not federal regulations and do not have the force or effect of federal law." They then admitted, "most states incorporate the ingredients listed in the AAFCO Official Publication (OP) into their state laws, so the AAFCO feed ingredient definitions facilitate the interstate marketing of animal food ingredients."
There it is in black and white folks. We know that AAFCO is a collection of public state regulatory officials, operating under a private corporation umbrella. We know these regulatory partners of FDA receive millions each year from FDA as part of FDA's AFRPS grant program. We know the entire purpose of this private corporation is to make regulations for animal feeds and pet foods in interstate commerce. FDA now confirms that yes, what they're assisting with is the creation of ingredient regulations that will be incorporated into laws for the facilitation of interstate commerce products that fall into FDA regulatory jurisdiction. FDA is helping to craft law, via private meetings. They have cut out the public as part of this private rule making and lawmaking scheme.
We know FDA-CVM could simply hold federal public meetings, and develop all animal feed and pet food ingredients in compliance with the federal Administrative Procedures Act. We know FDA is refusing to do this.
For states who cry that they want "uniform" regulations for products in interstate commerce, why are states against FDA-CVM holding public meetings, complying with federal rule making requirements, and allowing for citizen input? If a regulation was created by FDA-CVM, and created via public meetings and in compliance with rule making requirements, states can still adopt the regulation into their state law. Things then become much more transparent and citizens are allowed to be involved without having to fork over thousands of dollars to a private corporation operated by public regulators. After speaking to dozens of state regulators over the years, I have yet to be provided with one valid excuse as to why this can't happen. Many state's currently have this scheme where once they create and approve a regulation in private via their AAFCO corporation, the regulation automatically becomes binding law in their states. Citizens are cut out of the process unless they pay a large and burdensome fee to attend the AAFCO meetings. States and federal governments are using public funds to attend these meetings, funneling large amounts of public money into their own private corporation's coffers.
Let's also not forget that FDA is continuing to figure out how to keep this AAFCO scheme going, even after so many anti-citizen activities have been discovered over the year. Firstly, the private corporation of public regulators bragged that it can "restrict access" to anyone they wish. So, if you're a citizen who dissents and they do not like the way you dissent, they can essentially ban you from their meetings. Then, we have the issue of FDA refusing access to these pet food regulations they "recognize" federally, claiming the private group of public regulators, AAFCO, owns the copyright to this material. Yes folks, FDA is openly trying to keep this scheme going where they use federal money to create regulations in private, then allow state public regulatory partners to copyright that materially. AAFCO only started to offer some of this material for free after I sued and forced one state, Illinois, to comply with their own law. When I filed that suit, I then learned that this group of public regulators was represented by a lawyer named John Dillard, who is also the lawyer to one of the largest lobbying groups in the industry, AFIA (American Feed Industry Association). I had to question if this is why FDA lead a very contrived public attack on the "grain free" market, and continues a "regulation by opinion" attack on the raw pet food market... two major competing sectors to the grain based pet foods. Then, we have AAFCO claiming their ingredients are supported by science, but admitting AAFCO has no science available for the public to review for any of their ingredients. AAFCO claims that all science must be requested from FDA-CVM via the freedom of information act. If a consumer puts in a request today for science for an ingredient FDA is helping to approve this year via AAFCO, FDA-CVM estimates the agency won't begin searching for the records for 18-24 months. In reviewing FDA-CVM's budget request to congress for an additional $48 million dollars for 2023, FDA-CVM did not appear to request any funds to improve it's disastrous FOIA program that hinders the public. Given the large amount of work FDA employees do with AAFCO via e-mail, citizens are forced to file FOIA requests to try and understand what is happening between the government and the private corporation.
FDA's announcement states, "The purpose of this meeting is to specifically look at how to improve FDA’s role in the AAFCO feed ingredient definition process and how FDA could gather stakeholder input on the safety of each pending ingredient definition." It's confusing why FDA is framing their meeting agenda in this way because it is very clear at this point that FDA doesn't need to be involved in AAFCO at all. Given the fact that FDA is engaging with states under a private corporation umbrella, with the sole purpose of creating what will become regulations, FDA should not be involved with AAFCO. That is a federal agency involved in creating regulations in private, and not in compliance with the federal Administrative Procedures Act. There's not much FDA can do to escape that very clear and serious legal issue, other than to start holding all meetings themselves and comply with public rule making laws.
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