Safety Alert: Congress Plays With Your Food

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The House of Representatives passed a bill last week that threatens the safety of our food supply.

The National Uniformity for Food Act of 2005 (HR 4167) is the result of food-industry lobbying. Sponsored by Rep. Michael Rogers (R-MI), it would remove warnings about arsenic in bottled water, pesticides in fish, lead in candy and allergy-causing sulfites, among other dangers, according to an Associated Press report. The bill requires states to follow federal labeling laws, which are not as stringent as many state laws. In California, for example, voters passed Proposition 65, which forces companies to warn the public about toxins like mercury in tuna.

The bill’s proponents argue that labeling should be consistent across state lines so that a label in New York is consistent with one in Alaska. But this places more than 200 state food-safety laws at risk.

“There seem to be a lot of lawmakers who think that states’ rights end at the supermarket sliding doors,” says Andy Igrejas, director of environmental health for the National Environmental Trust. “This is special-interest politics at its worst—a blatant, under-the-dinner-table handout to major campaign contributors.”

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) managed to attach an amendment that would allow states to warn consumers about mercury in fish. It passed with a 253-168 vote.

A similar bill will soon be introduced in the Senate. Please call your senators to voice your concerns. You can also sign the Organic Consumers Association petition by clicking here.

“We look at this bill and think that House members have sold their votes to big business interests that fear consumer labeling laws which save lives and expose harmful ingredients commonly used in conventional foods and beverages,” says Organic Consumers Association Executive Director Ronnie Cummins. “GOP leaders and some Democrats who backed the bill really are out of touch with consumers who are more conscious than ever about the quality of ingredients in their favorite foods. This willingness to put the interests of their donors ahead of the demands of their constituents is really a travesty.”

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