House Expected To Pass Food Labeling Bill
The House of Representatives "is all but certain to approve" a bill that would require uniform food labeling standards nationwide, pre-empting California's Proposition 65 and other state laws, the Sacramento Bee reports.
California Attorney General Bill Lockyer (D) and other state attorneys general have voiced opposition to the bill, saying that Proposition 65 is "without question" its target. Proposition 65, which California residents approved in 1986, requires warning labels on products containing chemicals that have been shown to cause cancer or birth defects.
The House bill, which has 226 co-sponsors, would prohibit states from mandating food labeling requirements different from national requirements, although states could petition FDA for exceptions. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that FDA would need an additional $100 million over five years to review applications for exceptions (Doyle, Sacramento Bee, 3/6).
Thirty-nine state attorneys general -- including Lockyer -- oppose the bill, which could be voted on as early as Wednesday. In addition, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) on Tuesday in a letter to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) asked him to oppose the bill.
According to the Bee, "serious vote-whipping" was underway Tuesday to maintain support for the bill (Doyle, Sacramento Bee, 3/8).
Democratic legislators, including Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), hope to offer amendments to the bill (Doyle, Sacramento Bee, 3/6). For example, Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.) is expected to offer an amendment that would permit "expedited consideration" for states to mandate their own warning labels on chemicals that cause cancer or birth defects (Sacramento Bee, 3/8).
Although passage is expected in the House, the Bee reports that "Senate passage could be complicated" and that sponsors of the legislation do not "expect quick action" (Sacramento Bee, 3/6).
Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) "are vowing resistance," the Bee reports (Sacramento Bee, 3/8).
The House bill "would gut virtually all state food-safety standards that are more protective than federal regulations," a San Jose Mercury News editorial states, adding that "Proposition 65 has been at the forefront of protecting the health and safety of Californians."
In approving Proposition 65 in an election, California residents "have shown they are willing to bear higher costs in exchange for greater health and safety protections and more information about what goes in their food," according to the editorial. The editorial states that other senators "should join [Boxer and Feinstein] in this fight for the public good" (San Jose Mercury News, 3/8).