Sigh. Can't we do better than Boswell?

So Leonard Boswell voted for the Iraq War supplemental funding bill today, just like we all knew he would. Sad as that is, it's not why I felt compelled to write this post. Pretty much every vote Boswell has ever cast related to Iraq has been the wrong vote, in my opinion.

What prompted this post was a press release from the Center for Food Safety, which came to my attention this evening. Leonard Boswell apparently inserted language into the 2007 Farm Bill that would preempt any state prohibitions against any foods or agricultural goods that have been approved by USDA. That would include genetically modified foods. The press release does not name Boswell as the author of the language in question, but advocates have learned that he was behind the move.

How disappointing that as the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry (a subcommittee of the House Ag Committee), Boswell is using his influence to weaken consumer protection. Does he think the Farm Bureau will reward him for this? They're always going to endorse his opponent, no matter how much he delivers for big agribusiness in the Farm Bill.

As a resident of Iowa's 3rd district, I have long felt that we could do a lot better than Leonard Boswell. He is often not with us on environmental policy, energy policy, tax policy, or foreign policy. Even so, this move disappoints me.

If you live in the 3rd district, please contact Congressman Boswell and tell him that federal law should not prevent states from prohibiting certain types of food or agricultural goods.

You can send an e-mail directly to his office by clicking here.

Here is mail, phone and fax contact information:

 

DC Address:
The Honorable Leonard L. Boswell
United States House of Representatives
1427 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-1503
DC Phone: 202-225-3806
DC Fax: 202-225-5608
Email Address: http://boswell.house…
WWW Homepage: http://boswell.house…

District Office:
300 East Locust, Suite 320
Des Moines, IA 50309
Voice: 888-432-1984
FAX: 515-282-1785

 

The full text of the press release follows:

  *CENTER FOR FOOD SAFETY OPPOSES PROPOSAL IN FARM BILL TO BAR STATE
  PROHIBITIONS ON GENE-ALTERED FOODS*

    /House Subcommittee Today Approves Language Slipped into/
    /Farm Bill that Prevents States from Protecting their Citizens/

*Center for Food Safety Recognizes that Proposal Ties States’ Hands,
Weakening*

*Food Safety Protections at a Time When they Need to be Strengthened*

*Washington** May 24, 2007* – Earlier today, the House Subcommittee
on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry approved new language slipped into the 2007 Farm Bill that pre-empts any state prohibitions against any foods or agricultural goods that have been deregulated by the USDA. The passage appears to be aimed at several recently enacted state laws that restrict the planting of genetically engineered (GE) crops, but could also prohibit states from taking action when food contamination cases occur.

“Given the recent spate of food scares, it’s shocking to see this attempt to derail safeguards for our food and farms,” said Joseph Mendelson, Legal Director of the Center for Food Safety. “We need a Farm Bill that will promote stronger food safety standards, not one that attacks these vital state-level protections.”

The passage approved by the House Subcommittee today states that “no State or locality shall make any law prohibiting the use in commerce of an article that the Secretary of Agriculture has inspected and passed; or determined to be of non-regulated status.”

State legislatures, local governments, and citizens of many states and localities have adopted prohibitions on the planting of certain genetically altered products. Some of the state-level laws that may be pre-empted or compromised if the proposed Farm Bill language were adopted include:

· *Legislation in California and Arkansas that gives these states the power to prohibit the introduction of GE rice.* The major rice growing states are particularly concerned after last fall’s revelations that several unapproved varieties of GE rice had contaminated natural rice, resulting in massive losses for US farmers when export customers in Asian and Europe closed their markets to US rice.

· *Legislation adopted this year in the state of Washington, which prohibits planting of GE canola in areas near the State’s large non-GE seed production*. Brassica (cabbage, broccoli, and other such crops) seed producers pushed for this legislation, since GE canola can cross-pollinate with and contaminate natural cabbage seed. The Skagit Valley area in Washington produces $20 million in vegetable seed annually and is home to half of the world’s cabbage seed production;

· *County bans on planting of GE crops in four California counties.* To protect their organic and natural food producers, four California counties have adopted bans or moratoriums on planting of GE crops;

An overview of these and other state- level regulations of GE crops and foods is available at:
http://www.centerfor… .

In addition, the vague language of the proposal raises concerns that states would be barred from taking action when food safety threats arise. For example, states could be barred from prohibiting the sale of e. coli-tainted ground beef if the meat has passed USDA inspection, as was the case in last week’s massive 15-state beef recall.

The biotechnology industry has sponsored language akin to the text approved this morning in the House subcommittee in dozens of state-level attempts to pre-empt state regulations on GE crops. They also joined the food and agribusiness industries last year in pushing for a federal “Food Uniformity” law, which would have gutted numerous state-level food safety laws.

* *

*/The Center for Food Safety/*/ is national, non-profit, membership
organization founded in 1997 that works to protect human health and the
environment by curbing the use of harmful food production technologies
and by promoting organic and other forms of sustainable agriculture. On
the web at: http://www.centerfor…

 

 

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