Friday, March 03, 2006

Food Safety Corner: Debate about H.R. 4167

I had this as a comment to my last post about H.R. 4167:

Theoretically, can't a state today decide not to warn consumers that the chicken has been genetically modified?

I totally agree that the FDA is a poor choice, but that is another problem - that organization should be reformed. Maybe it should be reformed first?

I am all for reducing bureaucracy and making it easier for a little farmer to produce canned pumpkin that he can ship to all states with the same label though. Sounds like this food act is good in theory, but poor in the implementation.

dB. -

My response:

I don't even think it's good in theory. We're talking about state's rights here. The federal government, which has an appallingly bad history of handling food safety, not to mention other issues, is not even equipped to set standards. Food inspection happens at the local level, and this law would essentially cut these local agencies off at the legs. The language of the bill says that no state may enact any legislation that is not covered by federal law, which basically brings all regulations to the lowest common denominator. Like the huge contracts in the so called "war on terror", this is a HUGE gimme to the buddies of the Bush administration, which lowers their bottom line and makes it even easier to lobby for their own interests. The federal government is supposed to look out for the interests of the consumer.

Th argument that there is no federal standard, and that certain states can now choose not to warn against food safety threats does not wash. So because you can cross from North to South Dakota and have different food warnings now, and if this is seen as a disservice to the people of South Dakota, the alternative is to abolish ALL local warnings so that now NO ONE will get them? This makes no sense at all.

The actual language of the law states that NO STATE may enact law that is not federal. It's taking more power out of our hands and consolidating it. At a time when the food supply could be at risk for terrorism, we risk leaving it to the idiots who have been caught with their pants down numerous times.

This act would destroy the local salmon industry in Alaska, repeal California legislation requiring informing the public about potential carcinogenic agents in their food, and a myriad of other disastrous side effects.

Again, I also believe that states and municipalities have the right to enact local laws to protect their citizens. The federal government has no local understanding. We need not look farther than the disastrous handling of Katrina to see this at work.


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