Washington Times article Washington (AFP) – US President Donald Trump on Thursday signed into law an executive order that allows the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue subpoenas to food companies to obtain trade secrets for their products.
The executive order allows the FDA to issue the subpoenas in response to court orders, which are issued after the government is forced to produce records.
The FDA will also be able to request the documents from companies it deems have violated trade secrets laws.
The order was also a victory for the Food & Drug Administration’s chief privacy officer, Mary Ann O’Connell, who had warned that the executive order would give food companies too much power over consumers and consumers’ privacy.
“The FDA can seize documents, even if they’re legally protected, to obtain relevant business records and to seek the protection of the First Amendment,” she said in a statement.
“The public should be assured that the FDA can and will protect the rights of individuals and businesses, and I hope the FDA takes this action to protect the privacy of the millions of Americans who rely on food and food products.”
Trump signed the order Thursday afternoon in the Rose Garden of the White House.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In December, a federal judge ruled that the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act gives the FDA the authority to seize trade secrets to investigate whether the FDA has broken laws that protect consumers.
The ruling came in the wake of a court order in August to force the FDA’s director to produce documents related to the agency’s use of a genetic engineering program to create a human version of the drug melatonin.
The government has argued that the court order is an abuse of executive privilege and has asked the appeals court to strike it out.
The Food and Drugs Administration has argued it has the authority under the trade secrets act to obtain and use trade secrets, even when they are not legally protected.
The agency also has argued the order violates the Federal Trade Commission Act.