Friday, March 10, 2006

Putting Money Where Your Food Is

H.R.4167, the new food labelling legislation (National Uniformity for Food Act), has passed in the House.  (The Senate version is still pending.)  This is so, despite the fact that hearings were never held.  Many individuals and groups stated their opposition including a majority of state attorneys general.  And you will now have the great privilege of paying more for less protection.


Link


WASHINGTON, DC, March 8, 2006 (ENS) ­ The U.S. House of Representatives today passed controversial legislation that would eliminate more than 200 state food safety and public health protections.


The National Uniformity for Food Act, H.R. 4167, is opposed by environmental groups, Democratic legislators and a majority of state attorneys general.  The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that H.R. 4167, introduced by Congressman Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican, last October, would cost taxpayers $100 million over the next five years, with unknown additional costs on the federal government and state and local governments.

   


This is a most disturbing development.  Central to the intent of this legislation is the vacature of the more rigid California standards.  At the core of this effort are the large-scale food producers. < gasp! >  Apparently, they will attempt to reduce their costs at any price, health of the consumer be damned.


California Attorney General Bill Lockyer says the bill specifically targets California's voter-approved Proposition 65, a 1986 law requiring businesses to provide "clear and reasonable" warnings when they expose consumers to known reproductive toxins, such as mercury.


States would lose the control over labelling standards they currently enjoy.  Instead, there would be a new hierarchy under which states would be required to apply for leave to add standards.  (How do you think that will turn out?)


H.R. 4167 would shift the balance of power between the states and federal government, critics say. They object that the bill would undermine states' ability to prepare for and respond to terrorist threats to the food supply; prevent states from requiring consumer notifications about health risks associated with certain foods; and create a new federal bureaucracy to review and, potentially disapprove, new state food safety laws.


Once again, money talks.


"The House is trampling crucial health safeguards in every state without so much as a single public hearing," said Erik Olson, senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council. "This just proves the old adage money talks. The food industry spared no expense to assure its passage."


The NRDC:


A new report released Tuesday by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Center for Science in the Public Interest, "Shredding the Food Safety Net," finds that the the proposed bill would preempt shellfish safety standard laws in at least 16 states, milk safety laws in all 50 states, and, restaurant and food service establishment safety laws in 50 states.


"The bill also targets a law limiting levels of toxic lead in candies, a law requiring warnings to consumers about excessive levels of toxic chemicals in foods that cause cancer, birth defects, or developmental problems, and laws requiring labeling of fish as farm-raised or wild," the report states.  "Shredding the Food Safety Net" can be found at:


PDF Link


Now, call me silly, but don't legislators eat the same food as their fellow citizens?  And when current laws regarding shellfish are preempted (amongst others), won't they suffer the same effects from exposure to toxins?  No, I suppose that it's far better to retire from life on the hill and reside in a corporate-purchased gated condo community in Boca, even if the ingested toxins are eating away at one's body.    


I would, once again, urge calls to your senators.  888 355 3588 or 888 818 6641  The Senate must hear from us.

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