Boxer, Feinstein Fight Federal Food-Labeling Bill
California Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D) and Barbara Boxer (D) "would use every parliamentary device available" to prevent the passage of a federal bill that would require national rules for food safety, Feinstein said, the Orange County Register reports.
The federal legislation would pre-empt state food-safety regulations, including Proposition 65, which California voters passed 20 years ago to place warning labels on products containing chemicals known to cause cancer or to harm reproductive organs (Bunis, Orange County Register, 7/28).
The federal bill, by Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Bioterrorism Subcommittee Chair Richard Burr (R-N.C.), would create national standards for food-warning labels. States could petition FDA to examine products for potential harmful ingredients and label them, according to the measure (Hagstrom, CongressDaily, 7/27).
Feinstein and Boxer said the federal government is not equipped to assume food-safety regulation responsibilities, which have been states' purview (Orange County Register, 7/28).
Feinstein also alleged that FDA has not always been able to establish standards for dangerous products in food and sometimes has been lax in enforcing standards (CongressDaily, 7/27).
Supporters of California's Proposition 65 say it has helped protect state residents from harmful ingredients; opponents say it has led to frivolous lawsuits.
HELP Committee Chair Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) said he hopes to move the bill to the Senate floor by the end of this year (Orange County Register, 7/28). However, CongressDaily reports that the legislation has "questionable" prospects in the Senate "partly because of" Feinstein's and Boxer's opposition. The House in March voted 283-139 to pass the bill.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) also has said he opposes the federal legislation (CongressDaily, 7/27).