Last week I came here and shared with you the release of our new report, "America for Sale: The Costs of Republican Corruption" exposing how the Republican leadership is selling out interests of American taxpayers by allowing their friends from drug companies and oil and mining industries to write our legislation.
Well the selling out of America continues in Congress. This week, lobbyists representing giant food producers are having their Republican friends in Congress ram through the House a bill that will undermine the efforts of states like California's to improve the safety and quality of the food consumed in their communities. The legislation, just like other recent GOP legislation (Clear Skies Initiative anyone?), is cynically titled, the "National Uniformity for Food Act." (H.R. 4167). This legislation would eliminate almost every state and local law that provides greater consumer protection than our limited federal food safety laws.
The driving force behind the bill seems to be the challenge to industry forces posed by California, which is leading the way in demanding consumer warnings about mercury levels in fish, lead in calcium supplements and other hazards. Other states have followed suit. Proponents of the bill in the food industry and Congress claim that their goal is being misunderstood. If so, they should pull the bill back and prove their case at open hearings that treat the public interest as something more than a nonentity.This legislation which will make American consumers more vulnerable to some of the more horrific practices of our food industry and will have consequences just like the costs of Republican corruption we detail in America for Sale: The Cost of Republican Corruption.
Here is one specific example of exactly how this legislation is going to hurt average Americans who live next door to you.
Think about the meat you buy every week in your local grocery stories. Right now, the Bush FDA says it's OK for the meat companies to lace our meat with carbon monoxide.
If some of the meat in supermarkets is looking rosier than it used to, the reason is that a growing number of markets are selling it in airtight packages treated with a touch of carbon monoxide to help the product stay red for weeks.The "Food Uniformity Act" would prevent states from stopping this practice if they decided thay didn't want its citizens eating meat laced with carbon monoxide.
This form of ''modified atmosphere packaging,'' a technique in which other gases replace oxygen, has become more widely used as supermarkets eliminate their butchers and buy precut, ''case-ready'' meat from processing plants.
The reason for its popularity in the industry is clear. One study, conducted at Oklahoma State University for the Cattlemen's Beef Board in 2003, said retailers lost at least $1 billion a year as meat turned brown from exposure to oxygen, because, though it might still be fairly fresh and perfectly safe, consumers simply judged meat's freshness by its color.
The carbon monoxide is itself harmless at the levels being used in the treated packaging. But opponents say that the process, which is also used to keep tuna rosy, allows stores to sell meat that is no longer fresh, and that consumers would not know until they opened the package at home and smelled it. Labels do not note whether meat has been laced with carbon monoxide.
This has got to stop. Again as the Times mentioned above there hasn't been any open hearing on this bill in Congress talking about such concerns such as presence of dangerous chemicals such as carbon monoxide in our meat, mercury in our fish, arsenic in our bottled water. The bill is basically being rammed through this Congress again just like the Medicare bill and other legislations passed by this Republican Congress. This is yet another example of how the Republican leaders in Congress are selling out the interests of average Americans working hand in hand with their friends in big corporations without caring much for input from scientists and experts in that industry genuinely committed to developing sound public policy.
So, if you get a chance, please call your representative in the House today and let them know you will hold them accountable for if they vote for this legislation selling out America to the giant food industries poisoning our food. The choice for my colleagues is simple. Are they going to finally stand up for average Americans who are bearing the brunt of Republican culture of corruption or are they going to continue to sell out American to their special friends in big industries writing our legislation? Hold them accountable over this legislation today.
Thank you again for all your words of encouragement and making me feel so welcome in this community. I am set to have a long day on the Hill this morning and afternoon with multiple hearings including a big one on lobbying reform. So I may not be able to respond to your comments today, however please do provide your feedback because I will be making sure to reading all of your thoughts in response to my posts. As I wrote last week your suggestions and feedback are invaluable to our work in the Rules Committee as try to incorporate lot of your ideas into our work on the Hill. Thanks again. - LMS