They are Playing With Our Food Again

It is such a contradiction that individual or States' Rights, so dear to Americans, mean so little when it comes to the environment. First, in the energy bill, certain coal state Reps tried to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from granting the states waivers to put their climate change rules into effect, a challenge to California's more stringent standards for emissions. (they lost that one). Meanwhile, the big farm bill is going through Congress and supporters of genetically modified foods have slipped in a provision that bars state or local governments from banning anything the U.S. Department of Agriculture has already approved. Again it is an attack on California, where, for example, worries over genetically modified rice have caused the California Rice Commission to ban it, largely because export markets in Asia refuse to buy it.

So, if you live in parts of California or sixteen other states that have imposed controls on GM foods and are encouraging organic farming, you will be out of luck; Washington says its OK and you and your State won't be able to do anything about it. ::RecordnetAccording to a press release from the Center for Food Safety:

"At a time when we have seen repeated food safety failures at FDA and USDA, we need more food safety protection, not less," states Jean Halloran, Director of Food Policy Initiatives at Consumers Union (publisher of Consumer Reports). "This clause would tie the hands of states on meat, poultry and genetically engineered food," she said.
Section 123 would prevent states and localities from passing any laws prohibiting commercial use of USDA-inspected products. "This could prevent a local health inspector at a supermarket from condemning rodent-contaminated meat or poultry that has begun to go bad," states Jean Halloran.

"Section 123 will subvert the principles of federalism and states' rights," states Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. "If this appalling and outrageous measure is approved, agribusiness will accomplish what it could not achieve in state legislatures – the evisceration of state laws to protect horses from slaughter and a raft of other democratically approved animal welfare reforms."

Section 123 would also get in the way of state laws on biotechnology. No state could prohibit use in commerce of a product that USDA has determined is "non-regulated." Both supporters and opponents of the measure agree that this refers to genetically engineered crops, which USDA "deregulates" after considering whether they might be a plant pest. "California, Arkansas and Missouri have passed laws creating state committees that review whether genetically engineered rice should be grown in the state," notes Joe Mendelson, Legal Director of the Center for Food Safety. "These laws, which farmers support, would be preempted."

image from Consumerist.

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