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White House Offers More Money For Food and Drug Safety

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A significant boost in U.S. government funding to ensure the safety of food and drug imports was proposed Monday by the Bush administration. It wants to add $275 million to the $2.4 billion budget it initially proposed for the Food and Drug Administration during the next fiscal year. That would make the 2009 FDA budget 18 percent higher than the 2008 budget, the Baltimore Sun said.

Federal officials said the extra money would help pay for basing inspectors abroad, increasing the number of inspections, and modernizing computer systems, the Sun reported.

In a conference call with reporters Monday night, FDA Commissioner Andrew C. von Eschenbach said the agency would be able to hire 490 more employees with the new funding.

The Bush administration has been under pressure from Democrats and a coalition of industry, consumer and medical groups to increase the FDA budget. In March, the Senate voted to give the FDA an added $375 million, the Sun reported.

Democrats have alleged that White House underfunding of the FDA was responsible for the lethal contamination of imported pet food ingredients and a widely-used blood-thinning drug.

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