The FDA funding question has come full circle. First, the government's watchdog, the General Accounting Office, said FDA needed more money to do its job effectively. Then Congress asked FDA officials--repeatedly--to name a figure. A few months of that prodding finally yielded a number from Commissioner Andy von Eschenbach: $275 million.
Now, the Bush administration has seconded that figure, asking Congress to give FDA the money. HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt urged "Congress to act quickly to enhance the safety of food and medical products." With the added funds, FDA would open offices in China, India and Central America and hire another 490 people on top of the new employees it's already adding, bringing the total workforce expansion to 1,500, or 10 percent.
Apparently the big salmonella outbreak, linked to raw tomatoes, was the straw that broke the government's back. Coming on the heels of contaminated dog food, toothpaste, heparin, and more, the tainted tomatoes became one headline too many.
- read the New York Times story