Senators Voice Opposition to Uniform Food Standards Bill
Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on Wednesday said they are organizing opposition to ensure the defeat of federal legislation (HR 4167) that could preempt California's Proposition 65, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Epstein, San Francisco Chronicle, 4/20).
Voters in 1986 approved Proposition 65, which gives the state authority to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or reproductive harm. The law requires businesses to post notices about significant amounts of harmful chemicals in products and the environment. The list, which must be updated annually, includes about 750 chemicals.
Under the federal bill, FDA would establish uniform national food safety standards (California Healthline, 4/19).
Feinstein said the Senate "will defeat" the bill if it "comes to the floor," but added, "I suspect they won't even bring this to the floor" (San Francisco Chronicle, 4/20).
The House approved the bill in March, despite opposition by 39 state attorneys general, including Attorney General Bill Lockyer (D) (San Francisco Chronicle, 4/19).
Critics of the bill also say a provision of the legislation that allows states to petition FDA to apply local laws nationally involves a complicated process, the Oakland Tribune reports. In addition, future research of potentially harmful chemicals first would have to be approved by FDA, critics contend.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) also opposes the bill (Fischer, Oakland Tribune, 4/20).
The food production industry said the bill is intended to create a national uniform labeling system similar to those used for over-the-counter drugs, medical devices, pesticides, meat and poultry. The industry also says that the variation in food laws from state to state increases consumer costs (San Francisco Chronicle, 4/20).
Rep. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.), who supports the bill, says it would protect residents of all states and increase consumer confidence (Hannah, Contra Costa Times, 4/20).