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OCA Press Release: Was Congress Bribed to Steamroll Consumer Labeling Laws Without Hearings?

Organic Consumers Association: Was Congress Bribed by Big Business to Steamroll Consumer Labeling Laws Without Hearings?; 'National Unity for Food Act' Will Kill Strict Labeling Laws
3/9/2006 10:51:00 AM

To: National Desk
Contact: Ronnie Cummins, 218-349-3836,
Adam Eidinger, 202-744-2671, both for the Organic Consumers Association

WASHINGTON, March 9 /U.S. Newswire/ -- H.R. 4167, the "National Unity for Food Act", passed the House of Representatives yesterday by a 283-139 vote. This Act will take away the power of local and state governments to require warning labels of food and beverages, keeping consumers in the dark about what is truly in their food. The bill has been met with opposition and concern from consumers, state health officials and attorney generals. The Organic Consumers Association is concerned that lawmakers are selling out consumer health for campaign contributions. In the 2006 election cycle big agribusiness has already given $14,562,681 in campaign contributions to members of Congress. More info at http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/indus.asp?Ind=A

"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."

The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is calling on Senate to not approve the "National Unity for Food Act" which is an assault on local democracy and will only make it harder for food safety advocates to protect consumers from harmful ingredients or trace containments found in the nation's food supply. States like California which has stringent laws requiring labels on food and beverages that could cause cancer, birth defects, allergic reactions, or mercury poisoning would be preempted by this federal law. Alaska has a law requiring labels on genetically modified fish. The passage of this Act would nullify these and other state food safety labeling laws as well as prevent future laws from being passed.

"We are seeing increasing demand by consumers to know what is in the food that they are buying. As more consumers refuse to buy food that is labeled as containing potentially dangerous chemicals, big agribusiness knows that this is not good for them. Rather than clean up their products, they make huge campaign contributions to Representatives who are more than happy to craft legislation to kill the labels. This willingness to kill the messenger rather than act to on the message is a perversion of justice and exposes how badly broken our political system is when corporations can dictate federal law. We hope the Senate will have the courage to do the right thing, not what their donors say they should do, and oppose that National Unity for Food Act" says Cummins.

Over 100,000 consumers have responded to alerts from the Organic Consumers Association, the Consumers Union, the Center for Food Safety, the National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture, and other groups also working to defeat H.R. 4167.