Thursday, March 09, 2006

You Are Better Off Not Knowing, Trust Me...

Who really wants to know that the tasty sushi you've been nibbling is full of mercury? That's yucky and damps your appetite. The U.S. House agrees with me and voted to keep us in the dark about anything disgusting that might hide in our foods. That way our beautiful minds (in the words of Barbara Bush the elder) won't have to be bothered by anything until they suddenly stop functioning:

The House voted Wednesday to strip many warnings from food labels, potentially affecting alerts about arsenic in bottled water, lead in candy and allergy-causing sulfites, among others.

Pushed by food companies seeking uniform labels across state lines, the bill would prevent states from adding food warnings that go beyond federal law. States could petition the Food and Drug Administration to add extra warnings, under the bill.

Lawmakers approved the bill on a 283-139 vote. Supporters expect a Senate version of the bill to be introduced soon.

Thank you, thank you. I'd rather not know that the lettuce I had in my sandwich had been sprayed with sulfites. Then when I get the asthma attack in the middle of the night I can just focus on the struggle to draw another breath. - It's an interesting experience, by the way, and one I'd recommend to all the wingnuts who voted for this law. The whining and the raspiness are especially atonal.

It's good not to know this stuff. It cuts down on a lot of worry, and it's also much cheaper for the food industry because they don't have to print so many different labels and the federally required labels don't ask as tough information. We are all going to be so much better off under this "Food Uniformity Act":

A model of special-interest legislation, the bill is called the National Uniformity for Food Act. A more honest moniker would be the Bring Back Arsenic in Water Act or the Bring Back Lead in Supplements and Candy Act. The Senate should show better sense and dump this bill in the trash.

The bill would gut virtually all state food-safety standards that are more protective than federal regulations. More than 150 laws in 50 states would be eliminated. Its biggest target may well be California's Proposition 65, which voters passed in 1986 to require warning labels on products containing ingredients that may cause cancer or birth defects.

Proposition 65 has been at the forefront of protecting the health and safety of Californians. Under this law the state successfully pushed for a major decrease in allowable levels of arsenic in bottled water, as well as in permissible amounts of lead in calcium supplements, ceramic dishes and leaded crystal. The measure helped take lead-soldered cans off the shelves and alerted women about the risks of eating fish with high levels of mercury. In all these cases, federal protections are far weaker.

The National Uniformity for Food Act would also undermine state laws ensuring the safety of milk, shellfish and eggs; state labeling laws that tell consumers whether the supermarket salmon is wild or farmed; and California laws regulating the use of certain supplements by high school athletes and banning the sale of lead-containing candy from Mexico.

Large food-processing companies, supermarket chains and others in the food industry have lobbied for this bill for years. They claim that different state regulations and labeling laws are costly. This year, without any meaningful debate, they've managed to convince a bipartisan majority in the House that the health, safety and consumer protections afforded by state laws should play second fiddle to industry concerns.

The pharmaceutical industry is going to benefit, too, from all the extra sickness this will cause. Everyone wins! That's capitalism for you.
Links via this Kos diary.