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Key US Reps Voice Support For Meat Origin Labels January 23, 2007

Posted by notapundit in Congress, Politics, US News.
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WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)–Key Democratic leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives have voiced support in recent days for enacting a mandatory country-of-origin labeling law for beef, pork and lamb.

Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said Tuesday he is intent on seeing a labeling law enacted as early as the end of this year, but more likely sometime in 2008.

Chairwoman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., said Friday she strongly supports legislation to require that consumers know where the meat they buy comes from.

Peterson, speaking to reporters after a committee meeting, said the labeling is needed, but the rules devised by the Bush administration to implement the labeling law needs to be changed.

“The rule that was written in 2003 I think has got some problems and is not a good rule so we haven’t decided exactly how to proceed here,” Peterson said, without explaining what those problems were.

“I think it’s clear that country-of-origin labeling is going to be implemented, it’s just a question of when and a question of us trying to get this process set up so that the implementation can actually be accomplished in a way that’s sensible and reasonable,” he said.

The law mandating origin labels on meat products was originally ratified as part of the 2002 farm bill and slated to be implemented in 2004, but opponents have successfully delayed that from happening.

Peterson, DeLauro and other proponents of country-of-origin labeling differ sharply with the Bush administration which still stands against the law.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns criticized origin labeling Tuesday.

“I just don’t think it makes sense. It’s an expensive process,” he said.

Labeling, he stressed, does not improve food safety and may create complications with trading partners.

“What tends to happen in these situations is whatever action we take sends a signal to the rest of the world that not only can they take that action, but maybe they should take another step and another step and another step and it just becomes a serious problem for trading relationships,” Johanns said.

By Bill Tomson; Dow Jones Newswires

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