The House Tuesday unanimously approved an overhaul of the nation’s food safety laws, including repeal of the Delaney Clause, long heralded by environmentalists as a model public health statute.
Democrats and Republicans praised the measure for 40 minutes, passed it by a vote of 417-0 and sent it to Senate, where approval is likely shortly. If the bill reaches President Clinton in its current form, administration officials said he would sign it.
Enacted in 1958 as part federal pesticide legislation, Delaney bars manufacturers from using pesticides or any other additives in processed food that pose even the slightest risk of cancer. Industry lobbyists have long opposed the statute, calling it an anachronism in an era where modern technology can measure trace residues of additives that might have a slight cancer risk but otherwise pose no significant threat to human health.
The new legislation would replace Delaney with a provision barring the use of pesticides or other additives in any food - including processed or raw products - that would cause one or more than one additional cancer if consumed by a million individuals over a lifetime at average doses.
Substances that cause “reasonable certainty of no harm” would be allowed for use on foods.
The legislation also includes a provision designed to protect children - who are more vulnerable than adults - from exposure to pesticides.
It also calls on the Environmental Protection Agency to determine whether substances might increase the risk of breast cancer or reproductive problems.