New World Order for FDA

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WASHINGTON: President Clinton's $24 million plan, announced Wednesday, to turn the Food and Drug Administration into the world's food cop has farmers across the globe accusing the U.S. of unfair trade practices. But the FDA strategy which aims to force overseas farmers to meet food-safety standards or risk losing access to American dinner plates is not as one-sided as it seems, reports TIME Washington correspondent Dick Thompson. "The FDA isn't doing this because it's a trade issue," he says. "It's interested in inspecting the food primarily because there has been an increasing amount of contamination and a larger number of imports are being consumed by Americans."

Will the plan bear fruit? Thompson thinks not. "Problems with contamination are still likely to still pop up," he says, "because the FDA simply does not have the manpower to examine every farm in the world." Perhaps not. But the simple threat of a lost market may put pressure on countries whose sanitation practices are less than sanitary.