Search OCA
Get Local!

Open Letter to Senator Tom Harkin
on the Farm Bill

JOINT LETTER FROM ELEVEN CONSUMER,
ENVIRONMENTAL, FARM AND ANIMAL WELFARE GROUPS
May 28, 2002

Senator Tom Harkin
United States Senate
SH-731
Washington, DC 20510

Re: Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002

Dear Senator Harkin,

The consumer, environmental, farm and animal welfare groups listed below
have endorsed this letter to express our collective disappointment in your
leadership on the recently enacted Farm Bill. You have had a reputation as
progressive in some respects and certainly deserve some credit for actions
on behalf of food safety and the environment. Nevertheless, you used your
power as Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee and Senate Manager in
the House-Senate Conference Committee to insert or allow a number of
anti-consumer, anti-environment and anti-animal welfare provisions.
Specifically, through the Farm Bill you -

Gave the food irradiation industry, over strong consumer opposition, what it
had not been able to get under long-standing food labeling law by easing the
way for the industry to now label irradiated products as "pasteurized". You
know all of the evidence indicates that such a label misleads consumers, who
otherwise will not buy the food if they know it is irradiated. Since FDA
and USDA simply would not allow this to happen by regulation because of the
deceptiveness, you forced it on them through statutory changes.

Removed existing restrictions against the use of irradiated foods in Federal
nutrition programs such as the National School Lunch Act. This is
especially pernicious because neither students nor their parents will know
whether school lunches are irradiated. Further, our children are especially
susceptible to the potential for genetic damage and other risks associated
with eating irradiated foods. Both the European Community and the Codex
Alimentarius recently delayed proposed expansions of food irradiation
pending analysis of new scientific studies that further highlighted these
risks. You apparently just ignored them.

Provided lavish subsidies for large factory farm polluters and failed to
tailor the pollution control provisions in the Farm Bill so as to primarily
aid needy family farms. Indeed, you took what originally were good
conservation/family farm provisions and allowed the factory farm lobby to
hijack them, over the strong objections of environmental and family farm
groups.

Despite assurances that you would do otherwise, you allowed the exclusion of
birds, rats and mice, amounting to 95 % of the animals used in research,
from the basic standards of humane care in the Animal Welfare Act. This
condemned millions of helpless animals to needless suffering. This shocking
reversal of a long-standing law - the cornerstone of animal protection in
this country - was done without a hearing or debate. It relegated our
country to the bottom of the international scientific community, which sees
this as an absurd disregard for both animal welfare and good science.
Further, you allowed late changes in the bill that substantially weakened
two animal protection amendments pertaining to cockfighting and downed
animals.

Denied full research funding for organic farming and instead vastly
increased funding to promote genetically engineered (GE) crops and a new
trade program aimed at fighting attempts by consumers in other countries to
make sure that GE foods imported from the U.S. are labeled as such. The
bill heavily tilts toward GE foods contrary to what consumers want.

You went out of your way to favor high-tech and big business. You have been
named a Legislator of the Year by the powerful Biotechnology Industry
Organization. We are sure that if the irradiation industry has such an
award you will win that too. What happened to your pro-consumer,
pro-environment, pro-family farm and humane roots? We hope you get back to
them because what you have done will hurt not just us, but also average
American consumers, unsuspecting students, small farmers and unprotected
animals. On behalf of our hundreds of thousands of total members we
respectfully request a meeting to discuss these issues with you personally.
Andrew Kimbrell, Director of the Center for Food Safety (Suite 302, 660
Pennsylvania Ave. SE, Wn. DC 20003; tel: 202.547.9359) will contact your
staff to arrange the meeting.

Sincerely,


LETTER ENDORSED BY:

CENTER FOR FOOD SAFETY
PUBLIC CITIZEN
GREENPEACE USA
ORGANIC CONSUMERS ASSOCIATION
INSTITUTE FOR AGRICULTURE AND TRADE POLICY
ORGANIC AG ADVISORS
FLORIDA CERT. ORGANIC GROWERS AND CONSUMERS, INC.
CORPORATE AGRIBUSINESS RESEARCH PROJECT
ANIMAL LEGAL DEFENSE FUND
PEOPLE FOR THE ETHICAL TREATMENT OF ANIMALS
SOCIETY FOR ANIMAL PROTECTIVE LEGISLATION

Home | News | Organics | GE Food | Health | Environment | Food Safety | Fair Trade | Peace | Farm Issues | Politics
Forum | Español | Campaigns | Buying Guide | Press | Search | Volunteer | Donate | About Us | Contact Us | Email This Page

Organic Consumers Association - 6771 South Silver Hill Drive, Finland MN 55603
E-mail: Staff · Activist or Media Inquiries: 218-226-4164 · Fax: 218-353-7652
Please support our work. Send a tax-deductible donation to the OCA

Fair Use Notice: The material on this site is provided for educational and informational purposes. It may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of scientific, environmental, economic, social justice and human rights issues etc. It is believed that this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have an interest in using the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. The information on this site does not constitute legal or technical advice.
Please Support Our Sponsors!

Organic Valley

Organic
Valley

Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps

Dr. Bronner's
Magic Soaps

Botani Organic

Botani
Organic

Aloha Bay

Aloha Bay

Eden Organics

Eden Foods

Frey Vineyards

Frey
Vineyards

Intelligent Nutrients

Intelligent
Nutrients