Congress takes up Dangerous Reversal of State Food Safety Law by Mitch E. Perry02/28/06
A vote is expected in the House of Representatives as soon as Thursday on the â€œNational Uniformity for Food Actâ€?, which would effectively eliminate almost 200 l food safety and public health protections across the country.
The bill is prompting organic consumers associations and others concerned with food safety to rally citizens to contact their Congressional Representative to vote against the bill.
Critics note that there has not been a single hearing held on the legislation , despite its sweeping impact on public heath and states rights.
Southern California Congressman Henry Waxman is the ranking Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee. He told a national conference call why HR 4167 is a bad bill (roll tape#1 o.q.â€?led and candyâ€?)
Under HR 4167, if a state like Florida wanted to maintain its current safety laws, or change them, they couldnâ€™t do it by themselves, but have to thru the Federal Food and Drug Administration.
To Democratic Congressman Henry Waxman, such Federal intervention appears to fly in the face of the famed conservative mantra of â€œStates Rightsâ€? (roll tape#2 o.q.â€?consumer protection lawsâ€?)
Critics say if the bill passes, foods containing mercury, irradiated foods, genetically modified foods would have no warning labels on them whatsoever.
Ben Cohen is a Senior Staff Attorney at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. He mentioned specifically shellfish safety law â€“ which Florida and 7 other states currently have on the books â€“ as being at risk (roll tape#3 o.q.â€? so stronglyâ€?)
Ed Weil is the Supervising Deputy Attorney General for California. He said another law that could be eviscerated is Proposition 65 in California, adopted in 1998, that requires warning on foods that contain chemicals that cause cancer or birth defects in an amount that poses a significant health risk (roll tape#4 o.q.â€?burdensome processâ€?)
Bill Lockyer is the Attorney General of California, a Democrat. He took a jab at the GOP led Congress who he says are intent on passing the bill blocking food safety and labeling laws (roll tape#5 o.q.â€™itâ€™s an utter disgraceâ€?)
Health experts say that labeling on foods save livesâ€¦..Dr. Jerry Paulson , an Assistant Professor for Public Health and Pediatrics at George Washington University, says there are about 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths related to food borne illnesses every year in the U.S.
Consumers Union Suzanne Montezemalu says that another deleterious effect of this preemption, states wonâ€™t pass future laws on future problems (roll tape#6â€? in the futureâ€?)
For all of the doom and gloom presented by critics of the legislation, there is no immediate fear of such a law going into effect. There is currently no companion legislation in the Senate yet written, though opponents say it wouldnâ€™t take long for such legislation to be written before being sent to President Bush, whom they think would surely sign it.