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E-M:/ Oppose so-called "uniformity of foods act"



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Enviro-Mich message from "Alex J. Sagady & Associates" <ajs@sagady.com>
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The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on this raunchy bill this THURSDAY, MARCH 2.

HR 4167, the National Uniformity of Foods Act of 2005,would nullify any state food safety or labeling law that is not identical to federal law.  This means that it would nullify the Alaska law requiring labeling of genetically engineered fish and California Prop 65 labels that require labels on any products that contain carcinogens.  If this law passes, no state could ever pass a GE labeling bill in the future. State laws are needed because there are huge gaps in federal law--80% of food safety enforcement work is done at the state level.

I strongly urge you to call on your Congressional Rep to vote NO on HR4167.
Here's the list of cosponsors:
http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h109-4167

Here's the letter I sent to my Congressional person, which could be used as a template.
laurel hopwood, sierra club chair, genetic engineering committee

Dear Honorable Stephanie Tubbs Jones;
Please oppose HR 4167, the National Food Uniformity Act of 2005. This bill does not protect state food safety laws. It strips away the power of states to regulate food safety.

Sierra Club is very troubled by this industry supported bill. It is an obvious attempt at eliminating state food safety laws on behalf of the food industry and at the expense of rights of citizens and their state and local governments to protect their own public health. Because the FDA does not comprehensively regulate food safety, eliminating all state laws unless they are identical to FDA requirements will eliminate dozens of state food safety laws. The "uniformity" created by this bill will in many instances be the uniform absence of food safety laws.

One of my colleagues,  Dr. Michael Hansen (the lead scientist for Consumers Union which publishes Consumer Reports) wrote to me: "This bill not only affects labeling; it would also effectively gut most food safety work at the state level--there are 100+ laws that would be nullified.  Remember that local and state officials carry out over 80% of all food inspections."

This bill is identical to HR 2699, which failed to pass during the 108th Congress. Once again, state and local resources dedicated to ensuring consumer public health and safety in food processing, storage and retail sales are at risk. Similarly at risk is our non-federal resources directed towards ensuring compliance with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (Mad Cow Disease) and medicated feed regulations.

As before, this bill undermines proven consumer protection programs. The preemptive sections of this bill will dismantle the authorities of all state and local laws that address adulterated foods which includes food laws, antiterrorism laws, etc. The preemption embodied in this legislation is broad, vague and sweeping. State and local food safety programs are our fist line of defense against acts of terrorism involving the food supply - now is NOT the time to dismantle the very programs that are essential to a national food safety system that maintains the safest food supply in the world.
 
Here is how the bill works.  Under the guise of promoting "uniformity" of food safety 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. 
 
Federal laws set a floor for safety and labeling the states cannot go below.  Instead, the National Food Uniformity Act would prevent states for GOING FARTHER than the feds where they thought it was needed.  So the bill would actually have the opposite effect from what you are suggesting. Also, your comment about states having the ability to get the feds to adopt the state standards is not true.  It is hugely more difficult for a single state to get the feds to change the rules than to change them at the state level! 

Please OPPOSE H.R. 4167, which is a threat to the safety of the U.S. population and to the rights of states to regulate food within the state.

I greatly look forward to your response.

Most sincerely,

Laurel Hopwood
Cleveland, OH 44118
February 10, 2006



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Alex J. Sagady & Associates        http://www.sagady.com

Environmental Enforcement, Permit/Technical Review, Public Policy, 
Evidence Review and Litigation Investigation on Air, Water and 
Waste/Community Environmental and Resource Protection
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