Call to Action...


If you are interested in food safety, please read the following article regarding the House's vote to have federal food
safety laws superceded by federal laws. If this also passes in the Senate (and is sure to be signed by the President),
states will not be able to have food safety laws that are more strict than the federal laws which are being written by,
and for, agribusiness. The bill is being rushed through Congress to prevent a comment period which would bring the
issue to the public.

According to this law, the FDA would have to approve any deviation from federal laws, which it is highly unlikely to do
since the FDA has been very slow to act on any business that does not closely follow the Bush agenda. Any requests
could be endlessly tied up in red tape as a way to prevent any action from occuring.

If you feel strongly about this issue, it is not too late to contact
Senators Schumer and Clinton to inform them of your
opinion. Remember, our representatives are charged with representing us,
their constituency.

Thursday, March 9, 2006 (SF Chronicle)
House votes to dump state food safety laws
Zachary Coile, Chronicle Washington Bureau

Washington -- The House approved a bill Wednesday night that would wipe
out state laws on safety labeling of food, overriding tough rules passed
by California voters two decades ago that require food producers to warn
consumers about cancer-causing ingredients.
The vote was a victory for the food industry, which has lobbied for years
for national standards for food labeling and contributed millions of
dollars to lawmakers' campaigns. But consumer groups and state regulators
warned that the bill would undo more than 200 state laws, including
California's landmark Proposition 65, that protect public health.
"The purpose of this legislation is to keep the public from knowing about
the harm they may be exposed to in food," said Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Los
Angeles, a chief critic of the measure.
Several critics argued that the bill was rushed through the House without
complete hearings as a favor to a specific industry -- at the same time
that members are talking about the evils of lobbying and proposing
stricter ethical rules.
Under the bill, any state that wanted to keep its own tougher standards
for food labeling would have to ask for approval from the Food and Drug
Administration, which has been criticized by food safety groups as slow to
issue consumer warnings.
The measure was approved after a debate in which House Democratic leader
Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco accused the Republican majority of
"shredding the food safety net that we have built in this country."
The measure passed 283 to 139, with the support of many Democrats. The
Bay Area's 12 Democratic members opposed the bill, while Rep. Richard Pombo,
R-Tracy, supported it. The legislation faces a tougher battle in the more
evenly divided Senate, and there are signs of growing opposition to the
California's two Democratic senators are threatening to block the bill
from coming to the Senate floor. A group of 39 state attorneys general,
including many Republicans, has warned of the consequences of the measure.
State food and drug regulators and agricultural officials also are urging
the Senate to reject the bill.
A major target of the legislation is Prop. 65, which was approved by
two-thirds of California voters in 1986 and requires labeling of
substances that may cause cancer or birth defects. The law has inspired
other states to follow suit with their own rules on food labeling that are
more stringent than federal standards.
Critics say the laws have added costs for food manufacturers and
distributors, who must comply with different rules in different states.
The industry's backers claim the different warning labels confuse
"There is no reason nor is there any excuse to allow regulatory
inconsistency to drive up costs and keep some consumers in the dark on
matters that may affect their health," said Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga.
But California officials said the new legislation would reverse the gains
made through Prop. 65. Many companies, fearing the warning labels, have
changed their food to meet the state's tougher standards. Bottled water
companies have cut arsenic levels, and bakers have taken potassium
bromate, a potential carcinogen, out of many breads, doughnuts and other
bakery goods.
"We've had a lot of success in getting them to reformulate," said
California Attorney General Bill Lockyer.
Opponents of the bill complained that it was rushed to the House floor
without a public hearing, where state regulators and food safety advocates
could have testified against it.
"That is the job of Congress, to hold hearings, to introduce facts, to
listen to debate," said Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., who co-sponsored the
bill but opposed it on the floor, saying it needed a thorough public
debate. "I am wondering right now what the food industry is afraid of. Why
are they trying to ram this piece of legislation through the House?"
Critics of the measure also have been frustrated that California
Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has not taken a position on the bill
despite being urged to do so by Waxman and Rep. Mary Bono, R-Palm Springs,
early last month.
"Your silence on this legislation is inexplicable," Waxman wrote in a
letter to the governor. "It not only rolls back essential existing laws,
but it takes away your ability, and the ability of the California
Legislature, to respond to future public health issues."
A spokeswoman for the governor said Schwarzenegger may still jump into
the debate.
"The office is reviewing it," said spokeswoman Margita Thompson. "Once
the determination is made if the governor should weigh in and how, we will."
The vote Wednesday was a sign of the tremendous power of the food
industry in Congress. Corporations and trade groups that joined the National
Uniformity for Food Coalition, which backed the bill, have contributed
more than $3 million to members in the 2005-06 election cycle and $31
million since 1998, according to data from the Center for Responsive
The industry also has many top lobbyists pushing the bill, including
White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card's brother, Brad Card, who represents the
Food Products Association.
A leading fundraiser for the bill's chief sponsor, Rep. Mike Rogers,
R-Mich., has also been lobbying on the bill. Matt Keelen, a Republican
consultant whose fundraising firm raised more than $315,000 in political
action committee donations for Rogers in 2001, is now a lobbyist for the
Grocery Manufacturers of America, which has led the charge for the
"The food industry wants to take the states out of the picture because
they can't control them," said Andy Igrejas of the National Environmental
Trust, which opposes the bill. "This is how they do it. They make campaign
contributions, and they hire people close to members of Congress."
But Rogers denied there was a backroom deal with the food industry. He
said supporters of the bill simply believe federal standards work better
than state standards on food safety.
"A chicken grown in Louisiana is going to end up on a plate in Michigan.
Peas grown in Florida are going to end up in Louisiana," Rogers said.
"This is an interstate matter."
The House passed an amendment late Wednesday allowing states, including
California, to continue to issue warnings about the heath effects of
mercury in fish and shellfish.
But the House defeated an amendment by Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara,
that would have let states keep laws that warn consumers about exposure to
substances that could cause cancer, birth defects, reproductive health
problems or allergic reactions associated with sulfites.
The House also rejected a proposal to allow states to label meat that has
been treated with carbon monoxide. The gas is used to keep meat looking a
healthy red or pink for longer, but consumer groups say it allows stores
to sell potentially dangerous meat that has already spoiled.

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