President Bush proposed the Food and Drug Administration get $2.4 billion for the 2009 fiscal year starting Oct. 1. If approved it means that the FDA receives 5.7% more than the current budget.
However, many experts say that more money is needed to safeguard the U.S.
“At least there’s not a substantial cut, but the agency
won’t be able to do much with food or drug safety,” says William Hubbard, a
former FDA associate commissioner who has joined other former FDA officials in
urging the agency’s budget be doubled over five years.
The FDA, which regulates $1.5 trillion of goods, has faced
intense scrutiny in the past 18 months after a spate of recalls, including E.
coli-contaminated spinach grown in California, salmonella-tainted U.S.-made
peanut butter and contaminated pet-food ingredients from China that led to the
largest-ever pet-food recall.
At a congressional hearing last week, one panel member,
former FDA lawyer Peter Barton Hutt, said the agency needs its funding doubled
over two years and its employee count increased by 50%. Under Bush’s proposed
budget, the number of full-time FDA employees would increase with nearly 10%.
Hubbard says there’s a chance that Congress, which has held numerous hearings on
food safety in the past year, will bolster the FDA’s budget beyond what Bush has
proposed — as it did with the fiscal 2008 budget.