September 2, 2010
On August 5th and 6th, FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel participated in the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU) Academic Programs Summit Planning Committee meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to begin planning for a summit to be held in summer 2011 regarding curriculum reform. FASS has been asked to play a role in the planning to ensure that the perspectives of the scientific society community and the animal sciences are represented. Lowell will be serving on the Engagement/Outreach to Industry and Professional Societies Subcommittee. This group will work toward engaging industry and professional societies in discussions and implementation of curricula reform.
On August 19th, President Obama made four recess appointments, including Dr. Elisabeth Hagen as the Under Secretary for Food Safety at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The top spot for food safety at USDA had been vacant since 2009. Dr. Hagan was nominated for the position in January 2010 and the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry approved her nomination in July 2010. However, she had not received final confirmation by the full Senate. While Dr. Hagen's nomination was not seen as controversial, hers was one of many nominations awaiting Senate action, including that of Dr. Catherine Woteki as USDA Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics.
In his announcement of the recess appointments, President Obama stated that "At a time when our nation faces so many pressing challenges, I urge members of the Senate to stop playing politics with our highly qualified nominees, and fulfill their responsibilities of advice and consent," Obama said. "Until they do, I reserve the right to act within my authority to do what is best for the American people." Presidents have the authority to make recess appointments during periods when the Senate is not in session. Unless subsequently confirmed by the Senate, recess appointments are only valid through the end of the next session of Congress, so Dr. Hagan's appointment would be valid through 2011.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack made the following statement about Dr. Hagan's appointment: "There is no higher priority at USDA than ensuring that Americans have access to a safe and healthy food supply, and Dr. Hagen's background as the Chief Medical Officer and senior executive within USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service will enable her to successfully lead the effort to develop and execute the agency's scientific and public health agenda, and continue to build the coordination with public health partners at federal, state, and local level needed to achieve the objectives of President Obama's Food Safety Working Group."
In addition to her experience at USDA, Dr. Hagan has also worked in the private sector and academis. She holds a M.D. from Harvard Medical School and a B.S. from Saint Joseph's University.
The FASS Science Policy Committee met via conference call on August 30th. One of the primary agenda items was further consideration of policy statements in the areas of animal welfare, antibiotics and nutrition. It is anticipated that these policy statements will be finalized in the near future. Plans are underway to conduct a FASS sponsored webinar on the issue of antibiotics, once the policy statement is completed. The webinar will likely take place in October 2010.
September 16– Sustainable Agricultural Systems in the 21st Century, Washington, DC
September 22– Future Trends in Animal Agriculture Symposium on Animal Welfare, Washington, DC
September 28-30– BIO Livestock Biotech Summit, Sioux Falls, SD
October 20– FSIS/FDA/CDC public meeting on food safety in Portland