Friday, March 10, 2006

Gutting state food safety laws

We warned you, and how the House has gone and done it: dumped state food safety laws.
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. (San Francisco Chronicle via Common Dreams)
While primarily a Republican initiative, the vote of 283 to 139 indicates a number of Democrats supported it as well. Shame on them (the Republicans have no shame so I won't waste my keystrokes). The food industry wants the legislation because it doesn't control most of the states but it does control the sock puppets in the FDA.

California's Prop 65, a referendum that passed with the support of 2/3 of the voters in 1986, was the real target. It requires labeling of carcinogens and teratogens on foods. An amendment offered by Democratic congresswoman Lois Capps to allow states to warn their residents of carcinogens and teratogens was defeated but California would be allowed to continue to warn about mercury in fish and shellfish, a small victory.

Whether the Senate will go along is uncertain but the lobbyists are hard at it after their House triumph:
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 measure.
So the House is "reforming" their lobbying rules and Abramoff is a thing of the past? Yeah, right, and I'm one of the Andrew Sisters.

But here's the quote that really blew me away:
"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.
Gingrey was speaking in favor of this monstrosity of a bill. I mention this because if you try and parse this sentence you will get a cramp in your brain and I don't want you to say I didn't warn you.