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Cowboy hat By Jim Hightower and Phillip Frazer - Fri., 8/3/07
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Most consumers assume that since the USA is the greatest food producer in the world, the steaks, veggies, and other foods we buy at the supermarket come out of America's own good soil. But chances are good that they come from China, Eastern Europe, or other countries where U.S. processors and grocery chains can get food on the cheap. With the recent exposes of contaminated foods from China, however, we're learning that "cheap" imports can come at a heavy price. Shouldn't there be a law to label meats and produce so we shoppers can know where the food we're buying comes from?

There is! It's called COOL (Country-Of-Origin Labeling), and it was passed five years ago. Don't bother checking your supermarket labels, though, because corporate lobbyists and the Bushites have quietly prevented the implementation of COOL.

Lobbying groups like the American Meat Institute and giant retailers such as Wal-Mart don't want us to know that they are selling us stuff from places with little food-safety regulation. So these lobbyists and retailers have thrown campaign money at Congress critters to get them to stall the law. Rep. Henry Bonilla, who was key to sidetracking COOL, took more than $368,000 from the meat industry alone.

The food importers also stacked Bush's Agriculture Department with former food-company executives, including the deputy undersecretary, who should have overseen the labeling program. Representative Rosa DeLauro is working to free COOL from the lobbyists' chokehold. She's at 202-225-3661.

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