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Manufacturers applaud introduction of the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act

On Wednesday, Reps. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) and G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) introduced bipartisan legislation (H.R. 4432) that would create a federal standard for the labeling of foods and beverages made with genetically modified ingredients (GMOs). The bill, known as the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014, is a commonsense measure that would establish uniformity in food and beverage labeling and ensure the labeling of products addresses health and consumer safety concerns. Currently, no such standard exists and, as states consider their own labeling standards, a myriad of conflicting state standards could dramatically increase costs for both producers and consumers. The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) supports the legislation and praises Reps. Pompeo and Butterfield—and original cosponsors Reps. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Jim Matheson (D-UT) and Ed Whitfield (R-KY)—for their leadership in advancing federal policies that will ensure a safe and affordable food supply.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the nation’s foremost food safety agency. The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act would provide the agency with the authority it needs to establish voluntary standards for GMO products and to require mandatory labeling of GMO products if they are found to be unsafe or materially different from foods produced without GMOs. The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014 will ensure that federal policies on food labeling protect consumers and allow them to make the best food and beverage choices for their families. H.R. 4432 would accomplish the following:

  • Ensure food safety: Requires FDA to determine the safety of a GMO and whether the GMO is materially different from traditional food before it can be introduced into commerce.
  • Establish labeling standards: Provides FDA authority to issue regulations for the voluntary labeling of food and beverage products containing GMO ingredients.
  • Require mandatory labeling based on health and safety: Directs FDA specify labeling requirements for GMO foods to protect health and safety or to prevent the label of a GMO food from being false or misleading, based on any material difference between the GMO and the comparable traditional food.
  • Provide consistency in labeling: Requires FDA to issue regulations defining the term “natural” so that food and beverage companies and consumers have a consistent legal framework that will guide food labels and inform consumer choice.
  • Eliminate confusion: Preempts state labeling standards to avoid the confusion and uncertainty of a 50-state patchwork of GMO safety and labeling laws and affirms the FDA as the nation’s authority for the use and labeling of genetically modified food ingredients.

Food and beverage manufacturing accounts for 1.65 million jobs in the United States and is critically important to the success of the federal government’s domestic and global feeding programs, including SNAP, school nutrition, WIC and direct U.S. foreign food aid. The food and beverage industry does more to combat hunger and malnutrition in the U.S. than anyone else. In the past 3 years, the food sector has contributed $3 billion in food and cash to fight hunger and malnutrition.

GMO technology has fostered a revolution in American agriculture that has benefitted consumers in the U.S. and around the world. GMOs enable America’s food producers to more efficiently use resources and allow farmers to withstand crippling droughts and ward off disease or pestilence while reducing their use of pesticides and chemicals. Click here to contact Congress to urge support for the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014.

For more information about GMOs and the need for a federal labeling standard, visit www.CFSAF.org.

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Important Sunscreen Innovation Act Before the House Energy & Commerce Committee

The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing today at 3:00 PM about the Sunscreen Innovation Act. You can watch the hearing live here. On March 13, Congress took an historic step forward as Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA), and Congressmen Ed Whitfield (R-KY) and John Dingell (D-MI) introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Sunscreen Innovation Act (S. 2141 and H.R.4250). This legislation is a responsible way to alleviate the current backlog of sunscreen ingredients, and streamline the review process so the public can gain access to the most effective and innovative sunscreen products.

The Public Access to SunScreens Coalition (PASS) Coalition is a multi-stakeholder coalition formed to advocate for a regulatory pathway that guarantees a transparent and timely review of new over-the-counter (OTC) sunscreen ingredients by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). The PASS Coalition is committed to working with the FDA, Congress, the White House, health providers, consumer organizations and stakeholders to establish a regulatory pathway for timely pre-market review of new, safe and effective sunscreen ingredients.

Although there are a variety of sunscreen products currently available in the market for Americans to protect themselves from the sun’s harmful UV rays, consumers have limited choices when it comes to broad-spectrum sunscreen products. That’s because FDA has not approved a new sunscreen ingredient since the 1990s.  Eight new sunscreen applications are currently pending at FDA, some for over a decade.  Each of the eight sunscreen products currently stuck in the FDA backlog have been used in Europe, Canada or Asia for at least five years and in some cases for over 15 years.

Make sure to urge your member of Congress and Senators to co-sponsor the Sunscreen Innovation Act.

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House Subcommittee Examines Legislation to Prevent Fraud of the Asbestos Trust System

On Wednesday, March 13, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law held a hearing on H.R. 982, the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act of 2013. Introduced by Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) with Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT), the FACT Act is bipartisan legislation that would combat fraud and abuse of the asbestos trust system.

The NAM supports H.R. 982 and appreciates the leadership of Reps. Farenthold and Matheson on this important issue. The Subcommittee’s hearing helps expose areas of fraud that plague the asbestos trust system. Without proper oversight and checks on the system, increasing fraud and abuse will harm the truly needy and diminish asbestos trust fund resources.

The FACT Act would require trusts to quarterly disclose information on their claim payments and to cooperate in requests for information on claims and, while protecting a claimant’s sensitive personal information, would deter fraud and abuse without impacting legitimate claims. Opportunistic individuals currently are able to file claims for the same claimant with numerous trusts using different and conflicting theories of exposure, seeking multiple payouts. The FACT Act is a commonsense reform of the system that would inject transparency, creating a disincentive for fraudulent activity and protecting the individuals for whom the trusts were established. We urge Congress to pass this important legislation.

Erik Glavich is director of legal and regulatory policy, National Association of Manufacturers.

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President’s New Executive Order Looks to Strengthen Retrospective Reviews of Regs

Today President Obama signed an Executive Order requiring agencies to ask the public for “regulations in need of retrospective review” and semi-annually report to the public and to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) on the status of retrospective review efforts. The order also directs agencies, when conducting retrospective reviews, to give priority to initiatives that will significantly reduce costs and burdens imposed on the public. Agencies are also directed to consider the cumulative effects of their regulations and give priority to those reforms that “would make significant progress in reducing those burdens….”

The Executive Order, a follow-up to an earlier order on retrospective review, is aimed at actually reducing the public burden imposed by existing regulations. Manufacturers are encouraged by the requirements placed upon agencies for public participation and for prioritizing review initiatives.

Involving OIRA, the federal government’s regulatory gatekeeper, in the retrospective review process is important. OIRA can hold agencies accountable and help ensure agency efforts result in real reductions of costs and burdens imposed on regulated entities.

The Executive Order’s issuance coincides with the release of a new report on retrospective review by the Council of Economic Advisers. The Council asserts that, with the Executive Order, “the process of retrospective review should become a standard part of the assessment of federal regulations.” (continue reading…)

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President Issues Executive Order to Promote International Regulatory Cooperation

Today President Obama issued an Executive Order to promote international regulatory cooperation and encourage federal agencies to find ways to reduce regulatory inconsistencies with our trading partners. The President’s directive is an encouraging step because regulatory hurdles affecting cross-border trade of goods reduce our global competitiveness and harm manufactures. By reducing these international regulatory burdens, manufacturers in the U.S. will have improved access to foreign markets – a key to the health of our economy.

The Executive Order requires a regulatory working group – chaired by the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), the federal government’s regulatory gatekeeper – to identify international regulatory cooperation opportunities and develop and issue guidelines that will improve the global regulatory climate for U.S. exporters. The order also requires regulatory agencies to consider the international impact of their rule makings. International cooperation can be invaluable in reducing the regulatory challenges confronting U.S. firms.

With 95 percent of the world’s consumers living outside of the United States, international trade is essential for job creation. Reducing the regulatory barriers with our trading partners will help make trade with manufacturers in the U.S. more competitive and open up even more markets to manufacturers.

Erik Glavich is director of legal and regulatory policy, National Association of Manufacturers.

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Keep Politics out of the Federal Contracting Process

Today the National Association of Manufacturers joined 153 other organizations in a letter supporting H.R. 2008, the “Keeping Politics Out of Federal Contracting Act of 2011.”  The legislation would preclude the White House from forcing federal agencies to require entities to disclose their political spending – as well as that of their officers and directors – as a condition of participating in the federal procurement process.

The letter was sent to Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which is scheduled to consider H.R. 2008 tomorrow.

The bill is in response to an April 2011 draft Executive Order that would require disclosures of political contributions by select parties as a condition for bidding on federal contracts. The draft order is an attack on the First Amendment and suffers from severe legal and policy defects that would, if signed, immediately damage the federal contracting process.

From the letter:

The legislation reaffirms the principle, currently embodied in federal procurement laws, that the Executive Branch has an obligation to procure goods and services based on the best value for the American taxpayer, and not on political considerations. It also reaffirms the principle that the Administration cannot enact through executive fiat legislation that Congress has considered and explicitly rejected.

The NAM thanks Rep. Issa for his leadership on this issue and urges members of the Committee on Oversight and Government to approve H.R. 2008.

Erik Glavich is director of legal and regulatory policy, National Association of Manufacturers.

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Rep. Quayle Introduces Bill to Reform Asbestos Trust System

Rep. Ben Quayle (R-AZ) introduced the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act of 2012 (FACT Act, H.R. 4369). With Representatives Jim Matheson (D-UT) and Dennis Ross (R-FL) as original cosponsors, the FACT Act is bipartisan legislation that will help combat fraud and abuse that plagues the asbestos trust system.

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) appreciates Rep. Quayle’s leadership on this important issue. With roughly 60 asbestos trust funds and nearly $40 billion in assets, opportunistic individuals are able to file claims for the same claimant with numerous trusts, seeking multiple payouts. Without proper oversight and checks on the system, increasing fraud and abuse will harm the truly needy and diminish asbestos trust fund resources.

The FACT Act would provide much needed transparency by requiring trusts to quarterly disclose information on their claim payments and to cooperate in requests for information on claims. Different trusts could compare claims and prevent fraudulent or duplicate filings.

By ensuring that trust fund resources are dedicated to legitimate claims, Rep. Quayle’s legislation would ensure that the system functions as Congress intended. The FACT Act also would protect a claimant’s sensitive personal information. It deters fraud and abuse without impacting legitimate claims.

The FACT Act is a commonsense reform of the system that would protect the individuals for whom the trusts were established. Manufacturers support the FACT Act and urge Congress to pass the bill.

Erik Glavich is director of legal and regulatory policy, National Association of Manufacturers.

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Year End Spending Measure Stops Food Marketing Draft Report

On Saturday the Senate approved the conference report for H.R. 2055, the final fiscal year 2012 spending measure that will fund the federal government through September 2012. The President is set to sign the bill any time before the expiration on December 23 of a six-day continuing resolution that both houses passed so that necessary steps could be taken to implement the $1 trillion omnibus.

One important provision in the spending measure that has been overlooked is language that prohibits the Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children (IWG) from completing the draft report that proposed alarming guidelines for food marketing unless the IWG “complies with Executive Order 13563.” The executive order affirms the principles of sound regulations and reads:

Our regulatory system must protect public health, welfare, safety, and our environment while promoting economic growth, innovation, competitiveness, and job creation.  It must be based on the best available science.

In its proposal for sweeping guidelines for food marketing, the IWG fails to provide evidence that their recommendations would reduce childhood obesity by any measure. Furthermore, the IWG does not account for the impact of the proposed guidelines, failing to address expected costs or benefits.

According to the President’s edict, the U.S. regulatory system “must take into account benefits and costs, both quantitative and qualitative.” Moreover, the proposed nutrition guidelines conflict with standards set by other federal food programs including USDA’s Women, Infants, and Children program. The President’s executive order explicitly promotes greater coordination across agencies.

The NAM is committed to ensuring the IWG complies with the letter and intent of the legislative language included in H.R. 2055.

The food, beverage and consumer packaged goods industry in the United States employs 14 million workers, generates sales of $2.1 trillion annually and contributes $1 trillion in added value to the economy every year. The IWG’s proposal would hinder economic growth and cost jobs at a time when the economy can least afford it.

Manufacturers applaud the actions of Congress and urge the IWG to comply with the spirit of the law.

Erik Glavich is director of legal and regulatory policy, National Association of Manufacturers.

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Regulatory Barriers Cause Slow Job Growth for Start Ups

The Kauffman Foundation released data that start up firms are creating and sustaining fewer jobs than in recent history.  This is not good news for increasing job growth in this recovery. 

To help focus on this challenge the Foundation also recently unveiled a proposal to promote new business and job growth. Among the recommendations are a sunset provision for major rules that “would regularly cleanse the books of inefficient and costly rules and, thus, barriers to business formation and growth for all businesses, including startups.” 

Congress should heed this report and focus part of its job creation agenda on regulatory reform including proposals to sunset existing regulations.  Clearing out the regulatory thicket that has grown over time will help to reduce the cumulative burden of regulation and make room for new ideas and modern technology.

Erik Glavich is director of legal and regulatory policy, National Association of Manufacturers.  

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Update: More Concern over IWG Guidelines

Earlier this week we told you about the letters expressing increasing concern from members of Congress about the new Interagency Working Group (IWG) guidelines for food marketing to children.  This week two additional letters have been sent to the IWG agencies from freshman Republicans and moderate Democrats, respectively, outlining their concerns.

  • July 27: 65 freshman Republicans urge the IWG agencies to consider withdrawing the proposed guidelines.  The letter highlights how healthy foods such as 2% milk, soups, cereals and breads could not be marketed to children based on the IWG proposal.  The Representatives urge the IWG to complete a study as Congress directed. They write: “Absent such a study, it would be irresponsible to continue promoting the Interagency Working Group’s principles without sufficient research and analysis.”
  • July 26: 34 moderate Democrats sent a letter to IWG agency heads expressing concern over the data used in the group’s analysis. The Reps. write:  “[W]e believe that additional information is needed on the economic costs and benefits in order to make a proper assessment of this proposal.”
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