Samuel Girod, the Amish farmer who faced a 13-count federal indictment for violating FDA labeling rules, allegedly obstructing an FDA inspection of his facility, and failing to appear for a court hearing, has been found guilty on all counts and will be sentenced on June 16.
Despite causing no harm in 20 years of making his products, Girod faces up to 58 years in prison. Character witnesses and testimony from Girod dispute his most serious charge, which carries a maximum of 20 years in prison, surrounding his alleged obstruction of an FDA inspection of his facility.
Many are taking to social media, outraged at the verdict, the potential sentencing, and even the charges themselves. While there is consensus that FDA labeling laws that prevent false or misleading health claims are necessary to protect public health, there is also consensus that the punishment does not fit the crime in this case. This case raises questions about how the word ‘crime’ is applied. Crimes cause harm. Crimes are done in bad faith. Crimes are done intentionally. It is abundantly clear, based on testimony from Girod, multiple character witnesses, and the evidence, that Girod’s actions do not meet that definition.
Overwhelmingly, people agree that the actions against Girod represent not only a specific case of misapplication of the law, but systemic injustice in a legal system that sentences rapists, murderers, and even child molesters to less time in many cases. In fact, in most states, a person could sell the most unwholesome illicit drug to a minor and get out of prison in less than 58 years, even if they resisted arrest.
Furthermore, the harm and potential harm caused by substances that meet FDA and USDA guidelines—whether added to food, sprayed on food, wrapped around food, or placed in a ‘medicine’ (another word, like ‘crime’, that must be applied carefully) bottle—has many people wondering why such harsh action is taken against small businesses and individuals, while little action is taken against some of the nation’s biggest polluters. It may be illegal to sell raw milk, but actual harm is stemming from chemicals sprayed on food crops. The former is sure to be shut down and stiff penalties imposed; the latter is ongoing and accepted by the government.
According to reports, Girod complied with FDA requests to remove the cancer-curing claims from his labels. This, most agree, is where the case should have ended.
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com