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OCA & Others Force Congress to Delay Vote on Bill Eliminating State Food Safety Labeling Laws

PRESS RELEASE
March 2, 2006

CONTACT:
Ronnie Cummins 218.349.3836
Adam Eidinger 202.744.2671

WASHINGTON, DC ­ In a partial victory for consumers across the nation, the House has delayed the vote on H.R. 4167 for a week. H.R. 4167, the "National Unity for Food Act", was set to come before the House of Representatives today. If passed, this Act will take away the power of local and state governments to require food safety warning labels on food and beverages, keeping consumers in the dark about what is truly in their food. Thus far the bill has been met with widespread opposition from consumers, health groups and state legislators. The Organic Consumers Association is concerned that lawmakers are selling out consumer health for campaign contributions.

"As we look at this bill it appears 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. "Our members have sent 30,000 letters to Congress in the few days we have had to mobilize opposition before the expected vote. We are optimistic that this delay in voting means that Representatives have been listening to the emails and phone calls they have been getting and will ultimately defeat this bill."

The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is calling on Congress to reject the "National Unity for Food Act" as an assault on local democracy and food safety. HR 4167 will only make it harder for food safety advocates to protect consumers from harmful ingredients or trace containments found in the nation¹s food supply. States like California that have strict 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 is moving to restrict consumers' right to know. Rather than clean up their products, they make huge campaign contributions to Representatives. In the end we hope that our Representatives will listen to their constituents and not their major donors and defeat H.R. 4167".

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