The processed food industry today called for a relaxation of the federal law barring cancer-causing substances in prepared foods, saying the law is too stringent because it is based on 30-year-old technology.
The National Food Processors Assn. asked Congress to rewrite the so-called Delaney clause, a 1960 law that bars even minuscule traces of chemicals known to cause cancer in humans or animals.
It said the government should have the flexibility to set allowable levels for pesticide residues in processed food on the basis of “negligible risk” rather than the absolute ban now in effect.
“What I am suggesting is a plan for freeing pesticide regulation from an outdated technological straitjacket and bringing it into the ‘90s,” association President John Cady said in a statement.
The food industry has long railed against the Delaney clause, citing it as a relic of an earlier scientific era when technology was lacking to detect tiny traces of pesticides in foods. Its position is supported by the Bush Administration and farm groups but opposed by consumer organizations.
Many scientists argue that the technology is now so sophisticated--able literally to detect traces as low as a few parts per quintillion--that a rigorous application of the Delaney clause would ban virtually all processed food products.