37 votes

Do Libertarians want to eliminate the FDA?

A friend asked me how I felt about the government's role in controlling trans fats, arsenic, and other types of addictive drugs in foods. I try my best to represent the liberty movement well, so when he was asking me about who would then regulate poisons in our food, I told him that we should all have the liberty to ingest and do whatever we want with our bodies, such as smoking marijuana. And that companies would go bankrupt and lose millions of customers if they intentionally put poison in their drinks, just as people would start drifting away from Toyota if they kept intentionally cutting the brakes off of their fresh cars.

Even I'm not sure where I stand on this issue after I said that, and I think my position is kind of weak. Don't we kind of need some food regulation bureaucracy to check out the foods and drugs before it goes on the market? Because in real life, Americans do not have any time to research about everything they're eating, so they assume everything at the grocery store is safe. So it would take years for people to realize that a given product is extremely toxic and detrimental to the health. Thanks!

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Government is inherently the antithesis of competition.

Yes, local government is better: it is more accountable and has more incentive to be efficient.

However, efficiency is NOT liberty. Liberty is the absence of force, and a government without force is not government at all.

You do realize that the EPA and FDA are separate institutions, right? Your switching back and forth confuses your argument. While one can avoid making a purchase, it is more difficult to avoid some environmental effects, such as air and water pollution. The free market could still probably handle these better than government, but it is less clear-cut.

For the FDA, here are your presented arguments for having it.

-To not have it is silly.
-To not have it is ridiculous.
-Babies derive utility from the FDA.
-Preventative measures are better than reactionary ones.

Your first two arguments are simply ad hominem. I'd rather not address them for this purpose, but if you'd like me to be more elaborate on why "silly" or "ridiculous" are not valid criticisms, feel free to reply and tell me so.

Your second argument is also invalid, although less so. True, babies do not have the capability to make transactions on their own volition. That is the job of their parents. However, to claim that parents, never in history, have ever been liable for the safety of their children, I will borrow your terms and call your argument "silly" and "ridiculous". Parents have always been held responsible for not shaking their infants and not feeding them cleaning supplies. To insinuate that just because OHMYGOODNESSBABIES are involved that this is somehow groundbreaking fails to account for reality.

Your final argument is the most forgivable, if only because it has been pushed by statists for all of human history. Your first inclination should not be "There oughtta be a law!" because it assumes that the government is best capable of apportioning public good. For food and drugs, as suggested here, companies could establish agencies that give some sort of seal of approval to companies that follow certain guidelines.

Pollution is again a bit more difficult to account for, since it extends beyond individuals operating under contract. However, say River Jefferson flows southward, and there are two settlements along it: Pollutiontown in the north and Cleanville in the south. When Pollutiontown dumps toxic waste in the river, it will negatively affect the livelihoods of those in Cleanville, who are all under voluntary contract to not pollute their environment. Under these circumstances, Cleanville is within its rights to retaliate against Pollutiontown because force is justifiable if it is initiated against you.

Your attempt at being didactic has some serious issues, ClydeBarberVotesRP.

The FDA's a joke.

I think food companies should have to be honest in the labeling of what's in their product (fraud, if they don't) but outside of that you should be allowed to consume whatever you want.

"companies would go bankrupt and lose millions of customers if they intentionally put poison in their drinks"

They would also go to jail, it would still be illegal to poison people.

"Because in real life, Americans do not have any time to research about everything they're eating, so they assume everything at the grocery store is safe."

1. I'll go back to the argument that it would still be illegal to poison people.
2. I think Americans actually have plenty of time to research what's in their food, using common sense and turning off American Idol would be a good start.

"So it would take years for people to realize that a given product is extremely toxic and detrimental to the health."

Kinda like the chemicals in processed foods? Sodas? Flouride in our water? Oh wait, that's all been FDA approved so it must be "safe".

Just because something is detrimental to your health (like Twinkies, for example) doesn't mean it should be illegal but I would hope people have the good sense to know eating too many Twinkies is detrimental to your health. It didn't take me anytime at all to research that, I figured it out all on my own.

matter of convienence

I think Americans actually have plenty of time to research what's in their food, using common sense and turning off American Idol would be a good start.

Most consumers who buy a coffee pot don't research whether it has a history of catching fire, or if the stories about that brand of coffee pot catching fire are true or just a rumor. That's why companies pay to submit their electrical products to UL for testing. If the product doesn't meet UL's safety standards the product won't get UL's certification stamp, or if the product proves itself to be unsafe in the market, UL will revoke it's certified stamp of approval. If the retailer/consumer repects UL's reputation they will buy it without further research.

The same would apply to food products in the absence of the FDA. A company like Del Monte for example, is rumored to be a GMO food product, the company could pay to have the product tested and approved by a group similar to UL, say "Organic Food Growers" or "United Food Safety Laboratories". If consumers trust the reputation of that group they would need look no further than the "OFG" and/or "UFSL" seals of approval stamped on the product.

wolfe's picture

I'd rather...

Eat ground bugs in my horse meat than the crap the FDA approves from Monsanto.

The FDA does not do anyone any good. A business has a built in reason to keep their food clean and safe. But the FDA gives them a free pass. As long as you comply with FDA standards, no one holds you accountable so the FDA actually creates a "moral hazard" in the food industry.

Not to mention, who defines safe? There is a parasite which cures asthma, but those with severe problems have to go to another country and try to contract it by accident without contracting a 100 other things which will kill you because the FDA has denied it's use or deliberate import.

Read about those who have used rotten food to cure various auto immune deficiencies.

Not to mention their ban on Ephedra (and many other things). Ephedra(natural) helped me a great deal a long time ago, and was gentle enough to not cause me issues. They banned it, but left ephedrine (same but artificial and damaging to the system) legal. How did they have a right to choose for me?

(If anyone remembers Jack in a Box accidentally killing a few people, that story is a perfect example and the FDA certainly did not, nor could they have stopped it from happening but destroyed the bottom line, and Jack became the safest place to eat at after that because of the tight INTERNAL controls they placed on their people).

Even if the FDA created benefit, it is at the cost of liberty, and requires theft to implement. Real libertarians aren't concerned with a superior outcome in a given situation, just what is morally right. And an example of a private entity taking on the role of watch dog is the BBB.

The Philosophy Of Liberty -

Government regulations and

Government regulations and bureaucracies are pointless and only make the problems they aim to solve worse. #1, as shown by Johnson and Johnson removing harmful chemicals from their products in two years, we don't need bureaucracies to tell businesses how to meet the needs of their customers. #2, with bureaucracies and their regulations, you substantially weaken the possibility of class action lawsuits against big companies, because they can say "we were following government regulations." In a free market economy, businesses would act with much more caution for fear of being sued. #3, bureaucracies make products more expensive. Their regulations require extra lawyers and workers to ensure companies are complying with the government guidelines. This also raises the cost of entry into the market, which blocks out competition. Competitors tend to offer lower prices and/or better quality to drag customers away from existing companies they use.

Not to mention, bureaucracies created never solve problems because if they did their bureaucracy will be eliminated, and their higher ups realize this. This is why it is in their best interest to prolong the problem they are charged to solve. Hence, I don't pay any attention to NOAA when they get on their soap box about global warming, for example.

Bureaucracies take money away from producers to create regulations which make it harder for the producers to produce their goods and services which have to be made for the bureaucracies to have profits to steal in order to have money to operate. But that is the definition of freedom in the American Empire.

The FDA does need to be abolished.

They've helped ruin our healthcare system by hopping into bed with Big Pharma and preventing thoroughly-researched and tested alternative products from being used. (And I'm not talking about the crackpot "cures for cancer" that don't work, I'm talking about actual working medicine.)

I don't play, I commission the league.

Let's not forget Monsanto

Google, michael taylor monsanto milk

After the FED the FDA is next

After the FED the FDA is next on my list.

Can we squeeze the IRS in

Can we squeeze the IRS in between the Fed and the FDA please? I would love to see a paycheck without 5 deductions for the empire.


" Because in real life, Americans do not have any time to research about everything they're eating, so they assume everything at the grocery store is safe. So it would take years for people to realize that a given product is extremely toxic and detrimental to the health. Thanks!"

Uhm that is exactly what has already happened with the FDA at the helm. So hell yes we want to get rid of them! They have allowed companies like Monsanto and the biotech industry to poison the entire world with PCB's from the manufacture of Roundup and the like, threatened the food supply with GMO's and super bugs, They are the lap dogs of factory farming, and the industrial pharmaceutical complex and enable them to threaten humanity as they now do.

Society itself needs to change to a better model with more decentralized manufacturing and farming that is local and regional. The only regulation we need is if you cause harm you are responsible for it. We must take responsibility for ourselves. Food should be bought based on reputation of the grower not faith in bought and paid for bureauRats. Delegating that responsibility to regulation has been a disaster and now threatens our entire food supply.

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Cyril's picture

Eliminate ?

Eliminate ?

You mean, like in wishing to repeal all amendments from the 14th (inclusive) and on, and accepting the implications ?

Then I'd say I'm certainly in the Yay's.


"Cyril" pronounced "see real". I code stuff.


"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." -- Confucius

My Thoughts On This

Get rid of the FDA and instead let the free market handle it. One thing to always do to people on this is to turn the argument around on them. How many times has the FDA approved things that turned out to either kill people, or greatly harm them?

Because we have an FDA, everyone assumes everything is safe because it's FDA approved. This creates a false sense of security and it also crowds out or silences any free market food and drug monitoring that might evolve in an FDA-free world.

Simple solution - make FDA approval voluntary for those companies who want the seal and the customers who demand it. Then the FDA is funded by donations and businesses who "so desperately" feel we need this.

More than likely the person you're debating this won't wanna donate a dime for the FDA thus proving to you how noble one can be with other people's money. It's so utterly and completely typical.

It's similar to watching a NEOCON talk about turning "Iran into glass" and then you ask them TO GO and DIE OVER THERE FOR IT. Suddenly they have no interest in doing it. In a way it's moral decadence and decay but in an ugly and ignorant way that's hard to stomach.

They (government tyrants) have such ambitious desires when they can steal and force others to do it. But the moment they're directly responsible for it - no longer interested if they have to get their own hands dirty. I can't stand this mentality!

I need to calm down.... (Breathing)

The Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval

The Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval comes to mind. Years ago it used to mean a lot and it was just a private enterprise, magazine actually, that tested the efficacy of products. If the products carried the Good Housekeeping seal everyone knew they were really good because the product's and Good Housekeeping's reputations were both on the line!

In a true free market, such activities of testing for safety, efficacy, etc.of products and services would be handled far more efficiently and effectively by private companies whose reputation would actually have to mean something if they wanted to stay in business. The FDA has no incentive to do a good job free from graft and corruption and every incentive to just perpetuate its own power without any checks on same. It is never wise to turn such power over to the state and it isn't necessary to!

We would all be safer and better informed if the free market were allowed to work, public opinion actually mattered, and business could not stack the deck, as the drug companies do now, as well as have property rights, including the rights of your own body not to be harmed by others, enforced.

A good current example of how it can work reasonably well is Amazon with all their customer reviews. You can learn so much from really good reviews and it is quite easy to discern when a company has tried to game the system and write reviews for themselves - they almost always make the mistake of jacking up the number of 5 stars far too high that it becomes suspicious. But people self reporting their experiences and sharing them, thanks to the Internet, is a fabulous way to gain valuable information, without, guess what, government interference!

The free market at work will always do a better job of protecting and informing the public then the state can ever do. No system is perfect but we the people can demand information and companies will hire private testing agencies to test their products and we benefit without the excessive cost and backwardness of government bureaucracy.

Sweet Liberty

Speaking as a medical

Speaking as a medical professional, I can state unequivocally, that the FDA (along with the USDA) is responsible for more human suffering and death than all of America's wars put together.

You have really piqued my curiosity

If you have time to elaborate, I'd love to hear more of your professional experience on this.

Reminds me of going to Dead shows

The wonderful thing about going to see the dead was the parking lot, where you could beg, barter, or buy anything you wanted with no regulations, no taxes, no license, no certificate and all at your own risk. I know of no deaths. People were busted for drugs, so we did have a police problem.

There were some vendors who were well known, fatty egg rolls, Veggie Burritos, the KRISHNAs had falafel, a lot of kinds of foods and plenty of grilled cheese sandwiches for a dollar and a smile, or trade.. people sold art, clothing, many hand made clothing, fresh squeezed orange juince, hot coffee, esspresso, chocolate, beer and wine, repairs for clothing, cars, stickers, jewlry,..

and we had rock med and plenty of kind people who would help you if you needed some kind of help.

I feel very fortunate that I was able to experience a free market. I'm sure people got sick, but I never met anyone.. there was tons of competition. If you went to shows regularly you had to have something to sell/trade.

So for me, a free market works because you have tons of competitition and people really do want to please you..

Take the grilled cheese.. you had people who were cooking grilled cheese on camp stoves, melting cheese with welding torches, some would make their own bread, have a selection of cheeses, some had lots of things you can add.. from tuna and avocado to hamburger, salsa, mustard.. even home made mustard.

When you have lots of choices, from regualar vendors to newbees walking around with a basket.. you connect with people and make friends, and the last thing anyone wanted would be for someone to say,, "Man I had that guys grilled cheese and was sick for a week".

We used to debate what we were doing, socialism or free market. To me it was free market.. to others it was socialism.. but the bottom line was to make enough money to get a ticket for the show, eat, drink, get enough gas for the next show.

Which brings me to Ralph Nader.. Ralph Nader had the idea that the EPA should be a free market.. all these government programs could be private businesses and you would choose the one you liked to associate with and be associated. I think that's a great plan.. it's a shame Richard Nixon ripped Nader off and made his ideas government programs. That's not what they were desogned to be and why Nader has sued the government more than anyone I know.

I'm sorry people are down-voting you

just for your choice of vote. The ideas represented in this specific post are both informative and on-topic. While I don't agree with voting for Romney, I can still take the rest of what you say at face value.

Freedom is popular

There is no presidential candidate for me this election now that Ron Paul is out. Some say he will be a write in candidate in CA, However, the Sec of State replied to my email asking her about this and IF Ron Paul is a write in, we will not KNOW until 26 October.

My Romney vote keeps me seated on my county central committee, where we are working to fill ALL seats. While they will not have to vote Romney, my seat enables them to join us, and since I am not alone, they will most likely be seated. This is only one reason why that seat is so important. With Ron Paul Republicans seated, for the next two years we will be materializing Ron Paul's message, and then we will be up for election, in my case re-election, AS RON PAUL REPUBLICANS. I find this exciting, challenging and worth the Romney vote, after all, what will those who voted Indy, third party, Obama or not voting, going to do to materialize Ron Paul's message of Restoring the Republic to constitutional government for the next two years? I have never received an answer.

All the down votes tell me is that others do not appreciate what I have done to achieve liberty for all of us, while they do nothing but wait for the next Ron Paul? I don't know, or understand what they are doing that will help me/us be liberated from tyrany.

Thank you for the kind words.

I bet they all will vote for

I bet they all will vote for Romney too.

Not FOR Romney

Romney FOR the Ron Paul Republicans. We didn't pick him, and I'm not going to say we will win every battle, but we are in the areans and willing to make that arena the seat of power so we can fight to restore the Republic.

Your apathy is showing. Those of us who took committee seats and got inside the GOP as more than a registered voter are willing, ready and able to fight for liberty. Don't knock us.

I am far from alone. Facing the neocons and Ron Paul haters is enoiugh, who needs to get the same flack from people who say they love Ron Paul but refused to do what he asked: Restore the Republic in the GOP?

Sure.. do what you want... if you aren't going to do it Ron Paul's way... do what you want. How are you restoring the Republic? You're not even trying.



So the government is allowed

So the government is allowed to rob you at the point of a gun to fund things like the FDA. That's where the argument ends. It is never okay to initiate force against another. It goes back to the point of, "but without slavery, who will pick the cotton?"



Freedom requires responsibility. That is why most men dread it.
– George Bernard Shaw

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I am sure every State would..

I'm sure every state would arrange funding for reuptutable testing facilities, to insure the safety of marketed food products.

But for it to be done at the federal level gives a massive control. Greed comes into play. An organization can become corrupt and put profits ahead of safety or ethics.

As with almost anything, more localized control lessens the chance for greed and corruption. If one State goes bad then it might receive help from the others for justice.

With a centralized entity, state or power.....who you gonna call?

You better believe that in any form of government, there is lots and lots of money and power. Obviously, that is where the greedy and corrupt will seek to establish themselves.

Imagine if they grouped up, established special clubs and societies that would further increase their control. Imagine if they sought to buy up all media outlets and control what people know and believe? Imagince if they gained control of the education system itself...they could control what people learn and believe.

Why would they do it? Power and greed I guess.....

And oh...they did it a long time ago, gained these devices for control of their power. By this day in age, they have perfected the use of their media outlets to completely hoodwink the public in big, big ways.....Looks like those thugs are going global now.


...libertarians want to abolish the FDA, which serves to cartelize the food and drug industries, protecting cronies from competition, thus reducing the quality of food and drug products and/or increasing their prices.

"Americans do not have any time to research about everything they're eating"

Most American don't have time to build cars for themselves, but they have cars: why? The division of labor. In the absence of the FDA, if there were a demand for truthful information about food and drug products, someone would supply that demand. It could be on the model of consumer's reports, or it could be more like a rating agency, or any number of other models. Regardless, the free market would be able to provide more/better information to consumer's at a lower price than the FDA.

As with all things, the question is not "do we want service X," but rather "who can best provide service X." And the answer to the second question is always: private enterprise operating in a free market, and never the State.

"Alas! I believe in the virtue of birds. And it only takes a feather for me to die laughing."

devil's advocate:

how would you know what you are ingesting if food isn't properly labeled?

does your right to not be frauded trump the right of the company to not disclose the ingredients in the product they are selling?

[i'm all for getting rid of the *federal* regulations, but some basic regulations still need to be put in place--perhaps by the state--otherwise people will get injured without their consent.]


"[i'm all for getting rid of the *federal* regulations, but some basic regulations still need to be put in place--perhaps by the state--otherwise people will get injured without their consent.]"

And you call yourself an Austrian?

March straight to your room right this instant young man, and you read some Rothbard!

Or at least watch this Tom Woods video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=064YTtSxVSo

Check out the Laissez-Faire Journal at LFJournal.com

"The State is a gang of thieves writ large." - Murray Rothbard

trans fats are shown to cause

trans fats are shown to cause more harm than normal fats.

without food label mandates, the company is not obligated to disclose what kind of fat they are using. in fact, they could claim there are no trans-fats being used, and people would consume those products with the belief that they are eating a healthy(er) product than what it really is (fraud).

so you're saying the company's right to not disclose the ingredients trumps your right to not experience harm to your body--your property?

No ones arguing that trans fats are good.

I'm arguing that you don't need a coercive bureaucratic government monopoly on consumer safety.

If you really were an Austrian, you would understand that the market is perfectly capable of providing this service more efficiently, and more ethically.

If you are convinced that this is a crucial need, then you should be terrified that government is in charge of it in the first place.

Look at what a great job they've done so far...

Check out the Laissez-Faire Journal at LFJournal.com

"The State is a gang of thieves writ large." - Murray Rothbard