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Friday
Mar112011

FDA Budget Hearing Turns from Money Talk to MTV's 'Skins' 

Adam Gault/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- In the future, your children might not see commercials for chocolate milk, graham crackers, and Cheerios during breaks from their favorite television shows, prompting a House subcommittee chairman to take issue with some proposed guidelines regulating the marketing of food to children.

“I’m concerned about the potential overreach based on these guidelines that are sitting on the table right now,” Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., said at a hearing on Capitol Hill Friday.  “The food that would not be allowed to be advertised on television shows in which 50 percent of the audience is children could include peanut butter sandwiches, eggs, granola bars, noodles, chocolate milk, pretzels, cheerios, bread, graham crackers and cheese.”

At a hearing mainly focused on the FDA’s budget, Kingston took a moment to go after the “Nanny State,” pointing to the disparity in banning television advertisements for certain foods while still airing controversial shows like MTV’s Skins, a show he described as a “soft porn titillating type show,” which he claims to have never watched but channel surfed through.

“What does the ‘Nanny State’ want?” Kingston asked. “Look at a review of the show Skins and think, we’re saying fine you can watch it  -- freedom of speech, parental control. I’m not here knocking Skins, but I’m saying it’s ironic that you can watch Skins, but Cheerios can’t be advertised on it because that might really hurt our teenagers, not the fact that they’re all running around in skimpy little clothes doing naughty little things.

FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg testified before a House Appropriations subcommittee to defend the 30 percent increase in the FDA’s budget proposed in the President’s FY 2012 budget, saying it will provide support to an “underfunded” and “under resourced” department.

“FDA’s charged with an enormous and unique set of tasks,” Hamburg said.  “If we do not do our job and do it completely, there is no other agency or entity out there to backstop us.  That’s why I am here to ask for your support of the Fiscal Year 2012 budget for the FDA.”

The President’s budget request would raise the FDA’s budget to over $4.3 billion.  The President also requested $183 million to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act, which, Hamburg argued, the FDA would be severely hampered in implementing should Congress not appropriate the funds.

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