HIGHTOWER: Food-Quality Protection Act

The political season is always a prime opportunity to hear new examples of doublespeak -- the use of language to make lies seem truthful.A splendid sample of this is a recent law pushed through by both Democrats and Republicans called the "Food Quality Protection Act." President Clinton even referred to it in his speech to the Democratic Party Convention, boasting that "We are making our food safer from pesticides."Sounds terrific, Bill, but actually this law makes our food less safe from pesticides. Until this law was passed, a provision called the Delaney Clause said flatly that no cancer-causing pesticide residue is allowed to be in our processed foods. The new Food Quality Act, though, kills the Delaney Clause. Now, poisons will be allowed, so long as they result in only a "reasonable risk" of your getting cancer.How reasonable? The new law says that it's OK for processed foods to contain a carcinogenic chemical if it only kills a couple of hundred of us a year -- about the same number of folks killed on TWA Flight 800. This "reasonable risk," by the way, is per chemical, so there'll be quite a few planeloads of people going down, since hundreds of cancer-causing compounds are used in food production.This law was co-sponsored in Congress by Rep.Tom DeLay, a pest-exterminator from Texas, and Rep. Thomas Bliley, a mortician from Virginia. I guess we shouldn't expect good news from a food-safety law sponsored by an exterminator and a mortician, huh?Still Katie McGinty, head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, hails the "Food Quality Protection Act" as a new day in food-regulation. But her enthusiasm might be a little suspect, since she used to be a lobbyist for the American Chemical Association.Beware of politicians claiming they've done something too good to be true. Chances are, it isn't.

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