Wednesday, March 01, 2006

ACTION ALERT: H.R.4167 - Stop the Rollback of State Food Safety and Labeling Laws!

Congress is at it again. The folks that brought us the weakening of organic food labeling laws are now looking to roll back state food safety and labeling laws via H.R. 4167. From Friends of the Earth:

Urgent Action - Stop the Rollback of State Food Safety and Labeling Laws!

A bill is pending in the United States House of Representatives that would eliminate dozens of food safety and labeling laws. The bill, H.R. 4167, the National Uniformity for Food Act, does this by stripping away the power of states to regulate food safety.

This bill is set to hit the House floor for a vote this Thursday, March 2nd - please contact your representatives TODAY and urge them to vote NO on HR 4167!

Here is how the bill works. Under the guise of promoting "uniformity" of food safety and labeling laws in the U.S., the bill requires all state food safety laws to be identical to the requirements of the Federal Food and Drug Administration. If the FDA has not passed a regulation on a food threat, then all state regulations on that threat would immediately be voided. And, since the states regulate many food safety issues not covered by the FDA, many food safety laws will be voided and replaced with no law at all. For example, the bill would preempt Alaska's newly passed law to label genetically engineered fish and California's Proposition 65, a very effective law that requires labeling of food and consumer products that contain substances known to cause cancer or reproductive harm. It would also threaten state laws governing the safety of milk and shellfish.

The "uniformity" to be achieved by the bill is in many instances the uniform absence of food safety regulation that the food industry seeks.

Local and state officials are now responsible for 80% of the nation's food safety enforcement. H.R. 4167 puts a strangle hold on the people most informed about local needs. It is opposed by dozens of environmental health groups, by California's State Attorney General Bill Lockyer, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, the Association of Food and Drug Officials, the National Conference of State Legislators and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture.

If this bill passes, not only will hundreds of current state food safety laws face being overturned, future state food safety and labeling initiatives could be impossible to put in place.

There are currently 226 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives to pass the bill in the House, so every letter is needed to ensure that these Representatives understand what a bad bill this is.


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