Sunday, March 12, 2006

Show me the Money

The Food "Uniformity" Act is opposed by consumer advocates and 39 State Attorney Generals. (source). Here's why the only people who seem to be happy with it are corporations who will be glad to keep us from being able to read a label to see if we are buying GM foods or Milk with Growth Hormones in it. The bill passed with 94% of Republicans in the House supporting it. John Sweeney was a co-sponsor of this legislation. The other day we learned that Brad Card, brother of White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card was a lobbyist for the bill. Not only is he a former top aide to John Sweeney, he is also a donor. FEC filings show he's given $7,500 to Sweeney to date. His brother, Andrew, donated $500 in 1998. Sweeney also received funds affiliated with groups that are pushing the act:
National Milk Producers Federation PAC gave $500 to Sweeney on 09/21/2005 National Restaurant Association gave $1,000 on 6/16/05 NACS Political Action Committee has given $11,000 to date, but $3,000 seems to have been returned. UPDATE: Altria Group Inc. Political Action Committee has given over $14,000 since 2000
National Milk Producers Federation, National Restaurant Association, National Association of Convenience Stores are all members of the coalition supporting the bill. Altria Group is the parent company of Kraft Foods which is also a supporter. The bill was introduced on October 27, 2005 and passed the house on March 8, 2006 without a public hearing. I'm not sure what is more scary, how easy it is to find the connections, how few people in the press look for them, or how little it seems to cost to sweep another bill that cares more about companies than constituents through the House. States have historically lead the way in requiring labels that consumers want and this bill will put an end to that. When I spoke with Gillibrand yesterday about this, she indicated that the federal government should not impose a maximum standard for uniformity but rather a minimum standard. But the food corporations would rather not have to compete for our purchase, this way is much easier on them.


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