Daily News Archive
From March 1, 2006                                                                                                        

Congress Poised to Pass Bill Taking Away Your Right to Know What's In Your Food
(Beyond Pesticides, March 1, 2006)
The House of Representatives will vote this week on the controversial "National Uniformity for Food Act " labeling law that will take away local government and states' power to require food safety food labels such as those required in California and other states on foods or beverages that are likely to cause cancer, birth defects, allergic reactions, or mercury poisoning. This bill would also prevent citizens in local municipalities and states from passing laws requiring that genetically engineered foods and ingredients such as Monsanto's recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH) be labeled.

The House will vote March 2, 2006 on a bill that would gut state food safety and labeling laws. H.R. 4167, the "National Uniformity for Food Act," lowers the bar on food safety by overturning state food safety laws that are not "identical" to federal law. Hundreds of state laws and regulations are at risk, including those governing the safety of milk, fish, and shellfish. The bill is being pushed by large supermarket chains and food manufacturers, spearheaded by the powerful Grocery Manufacturers of America.

According to the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), H.R. 4167 could preempt approximately 80 state laws that are already on the books in 37 states. The bill will impact the strict laws in states such as California, Florida, Louisiana and Rhode Island that require warning labels on shellfish, which often carry lethal pathogens, laws in Illinois and Pennsylvania that regulate the safety of eggs; a law in Alaska requiring labeling of genetically modified fish or fish products; and state mercury warnings, such as California's strong point-of-purchase mercury warnings for fish.

In addition to preempting the already established food safety laws, according to PIRG, H.R. 4167 will forever tie the hands of states and municipalities on a range of emerging food safety issues, whether or not the federal government has addressed public health concerns. Among other things, states and localities would not be able to regulate and label food products that contain irradiated ingredients, pesticides, antibiotics, or genetically modified organisms.

Devin Nunes (R-CA) said, "The bottom line is, you have to have continuity in food labeling, because you never know when the food is going to go across state lines.” Agreeing with the concerns expressed by California environmental groups, California Attorney General Bill Lockyer warns the legislation would dismantle the state's own strict standards, which includes the Proposition 65 rules that have been in place since 1986.

Read the full text of the bill at http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h109-4167.

TAKE ACTION: Industry-sponsored H.R. 4167 is gaining momentum and must be stopped! Act now to preserve local and regional democracy and protect yourself and your family from unsafe food by calling or sending a message to your Congressman or Congresswoman to vote "No" on House of Representatives Bill H.R. 4167, the "National Uniformity for Food Act," by Thursday, March 2 Your Congress Member in the House of Representatives to Vote "No" on H.R. 4167.