"The result will mean less disclosure about toxic chemicals in our food, less incentive for manufacturers to remove them and less protection for public health," Lockyer was quoted as saying. "This federal proposal would drag our public-health protection laws down to the lowest common denominator."
In a six-page letter to the California congressional delegation, Lockyer urged lawmakers to oppose the bill and accused the U.S. Food and Drug Administration of lax oversight and arbitrary meddling in the state's public-health efforts on behalf of the food industry.
The bill, approved by a House committee in December, would dismantle a 20-year-old state anti-toxics law, Proposition 65, that has reduced the public's exposure to toxic chemicals in food, Lockyer said.
The bill, called the National Uniformity for Food Act, would prohibit states from establishing any requirements or posting warning on foods if they are not identical to federal provisions. It would allow states to petition for an exemption.
The bill is supported by a coalition of national food groups concerned that different state laws hurt business.
"It doesn't make a lot of sense to have different labels on different products going to different states," said Susan Stout of the national Grocery Manufacturers Association. "If the science is there to merit a warning then it ought to be done (nationally)."