July 1, 1996
U.S. environmental groups are mounting campaigns to stop
several bills and amendments now pending before Congress that
would weaken food safety laws. Congress may vote on some of
these measures in the next few weeks or months.
The "Food Quality Protection Act," backed by the chemical and
food industries and agribusiness, would weaken the existing
Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act by repealing the Delaney
Clause. The Delaney Clause, passed in 1958, bans the use of
cancer causing additives including food coloring, animal
drugs and pesticides, in processed foods. Under the proposed
bill, the Delaney Clause would be repealed and replaced with
an undefined "negligible risk" standard, which will allow an
"acceptable number" of additional cancers over a lifetime.
The bill would also allow the negligible risk provision to be
overridden by economic benefits in some instances.
Groups such as the National Coalition Against the Misuse of
Pesticides (NCAMP), the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives
to Pesticides (NCAP), the National Campaign for Pesticide
Policy Reform (NCPPR), and the Pesticide Action Network North
America (PANNA) maintain that the clause should instead be
strengthened to include bans on cancer-causing and other high
hazard pesticides in all, not just processed, foods.
While the bill requires that data be collected on the
consumption of foods that children eat as well as other
related research, it does not require that any of the
recommendations outlined in the National Academy of Sciences'
report "Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children" be
implemented. These recommendations include requiring that
special methodologies and safety factors for evaluating
pesticides be established for children, and that all sources
of exposure (such as food, water, lawn, home use) as well as
multiple pesticide exposures be considered in setting
Under the proposed "Food Quality Protection Act," the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would be required to
justify any pesticide residue tolerance that is different
than those set by Codex Alimentarius. The Codex is an
international advisory body whose acts are not legally
binding and involve minimal public participation. Tolerances
set by the Codex are often much lower than EPA standards. The
bill would also eliminate a state's right to adopt standards
for pesticides in foods stricter than those set at the
federal level, and pre-empt local governments from
establishing local pesticide controls, such as programs
calling for integrated pest management in schools or lawn
The Delaney Clause is also threatened by the "Food Amendments
and the Animal Drug Availability Act of 1996," which is part
of a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reform package.
This bill also replaces the Delaney Clause with a standard
based on "negligible and insignificant risk" and contains
language to pre-empt states from setting food tolerances. The
preemption, or "national uniformity," provisions will
eliminate all state food safety and labeling laws, now in
effect in 48 states, such as shellfish warning labels in
Florida and California, freshness dating in Ohio, and kosher
and organic labeling laws across the U.S. In addition, food
additives approved for use in a European country would now be
"deemed approved" in the U.S., without any additional review.
Other food safety threats include repealing the federal
requirement that irradiated foods be labeled; privatizing
food safety reviews; allowing manufacturers to hire private
firms to test food safety and health claims made on labels;
repealing use of standard terminology for nutrient content
claims and allowing nongovernmental panels to make binding
determination on these claims; and shifting the burden of
disproving claims and privatized reviews to the U.S. Food and
Groups opposing these bills propose a list of recommendations
to reform U.S. pesticide laws, including:
** Make the Delaney Clause stronger, not weaker.
** Protect children more effectively by implementing the
National Academy of Sciences recommendations.
** Allocate more funding for research and dissemination of
least-toxic and non-chemical alternatives to pesticides.
** Provide government subsidies to help farmers make the
transition to reduced pesticide use.
** Phase out the most hazardous pesticides from the food and
Action: Tell your Representatives and Senators to vote
against the "Food Quality Protection Act" (H.R. 1627 and S.
1166), the "Food Amendments and Animal Drug Availability Act
of 1996" (H.R. 3200) and the House version, the "FDA
Performance and Accountability Act" (S. 1477) and any other
legislation that overturns the Delaney Clause or otherwise
weakens food safety standards. To obtain telephone numbers,
contact the Congressional Switchboard: (202) 224-3121.
Source: NCAP Pesticide Action Alert, May 1996; NCAMP
Technical Report, May 1996; NCPPR, The Attack of Food Safety:
The Bliley-Roberts Pesticide Bill.
NCAMP, 701 E Street SE, Suite 200, Washington DC 20003; phone
(202) 543-5450; fax (202) 543-4791; email email@example.com.
NCAP, Box 1393, Eugene, OR 97440; phone (541) 344-5044; fax
(503) 344-6923; email firstname.lastname@example.org.
NCPPR, 1828 Jefferson Place NW, Washington DC 20036; phone
(202) 955-3810; fax (202) 955-3814; email email@example.com.
| Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) |
| Phone:(415) 541-9140 Fax:(415) 541-9253 |
| Email: firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.panna.org/panna/|
| PANNA, 116 New Montgomery, #810, San Francisco, CA 94105 |
|*To subscribe to PANUPS send email to MAJORDOMO@igc.apc.org|
| with the following text on one line: subscribe panups |
| To unsubscribe send the following: unsubscribe panups |
|*For basic information about PANNA, send an email message |
| to email@example.com |