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Country-of-origin bill deserves prominence in Colo. House

DENVER—Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU) is asking the Colorado House to give a bill legislating country-of-origin food labeling the prominence demanded by its public popularity.

“According to a study by the Farm Foundation, 98 percent of farmers want food to be labeled with its country of origin, and surveys prior to Sept. 11, 2001, showed that at least two-thirds of consumers favor the policy,” said John Stencel, RMFU president. “Following last year’s Mad Cow Disease outbreak in Europe and the September 11 terrorist attacks, consumers are more concerned than ever about the origin of their food. It’s a national security issue!”

RMFU is concerned that the House leadership’s decision to refer H.B. 1157—a bill requiring country-of-origin food labeling—to the State Veteran and Military Affairs Committee will doom it during the current Legislative Session. “A healthy competitive marketplace demands that customers have an opportunity to make informed choices regarding the products they purchase, Stencel said. “While baseball caps, T-shirts, and sports clothes today carry labels listing the country in which they were manufactured, the origin of meat and fresh produce remains largely a mystery.”

According to the federal Government Accounting Office, less than 2 percent of the food products imported into the United States are inspected each year.

Opponents of country of origin notification argue that the current consolidated food system virtually prohibits such a practice. For example, a study conducted by Colorado State University two years ago found that an average 4-ounce beef patty today contains muscle and/or fat tissue from at least 55 animals and as many as 1,082 animals. The fact that this system of food processing has difficulty in meeting country-of-origin notification requirements should not serve as a prohibition to the practice. Rather, it is the reason that consumers are demanding country-or-origin notification, contends RMFU.

“Without the ability to make an informed choice, many consumers may simply choose not to purchase those food products. Colorado ranchers and farmers are harmed in the process,” Stencel said.