Congressional support for federal pesticide rollbacks and campaign contributions
provided by the Environmental Health Coalition
Brian Bilbray leads the San Diego delegation in contributions from poison
ampaign contributions from pesticide manufacturers,
agribusiness, food corporations and farm groups are the most reliable indicator
of support for proposed federal legislation that would roll back current
pesticide standards, finds a report released by the Environmental Working
Group (EWG). The two bills currently at issue are H.R. 1627 and S. 1166,
the U.S. House and Senate versions of the Bliley-Roberts "Food Quality
Protection Act," which despite its title would actually make America's
food considerably more dangerous.
The report, ironically named Pay To Spray, found
that the Food Chain Coalition contributed $13.4 million to members of the
House and Senate between 1992 and 1996, with significantly more money going
to sponsors of the bill and members of key committees. The report concluded
that Coalition contributions were a more reliable indicator of support for
the bill than constituent interest, defined as high pesticide use in a congressional
district. The Food Chain Coalition is a group of over 230 corporations,
trade associations and organizations representing all aspects of the U.S.
pesticide and food industries that stand to gain financially from passage
of the Act.
Analysis of Federal Election Commission (FEC) records
shows that the 241 sponsors of the Act received an average of $28,000 in
PAC contributions from the Food Chain Coalition between November 1992 and
April 1996. Non-sponsors, on average, received only $13,000. Rep. Brian
Bilbray (R-CA), a sponsor of the Act and member of the House Commerce Committee,
received $27,000 from the Food Chain Coalition since he declared his candidacy
for the 1994 election. Rep. Bilbray's campaign contributions were more than
double the House average of $13,000 for non-sponsors of the bill.
By contrast, Representatives Packard, Cunningham and
Hunter, the other members of the San Diego delegation who are sponsors of
the bill, received between $6,750 and $14,850. None of these members are
also on the House Commerce Committee, which has preliminary decision-making
power over this bill. Representative Bob Filner, who is neither a sponsor
nor a Commerce Committee member, received $5,750.
"This report is a disturbing look at the golden
rule of politics - 'those with the gold rule.' With the current Congress,
the poison PACs have gotten what they paid for," said Paula Forbis
of the Environmental Health Coalition, which released the report in San
Diego. Added Donna Frye, of Surfers Tired of Pollution (STOP), "In
the absence of public outcry for more pesticides in food, it's difficult
not to conclude that the poison PACs have many representatives, including
Brian Bilbray, in their pocket. PAC money from the pesticide manufacturers
is a systemic poison to the legislative process."
"Pesticides are linked to various cancers, neurological
problems, reproductive difficulties, and other health problems," Forbis
continued. "For that reason several local government agencies, such
as the San Diego Unified School District, have adopted Integrated Pest Management
programs to reduce the exposure of schoolchildren to pesticides. By supporting
this bill, Rep. Bilbray is taking away this local control and ensuring that
his constituents will be exposed to even higher levels of dangerous pesticides
than they are now."
Copies of the report can be obtained by calling the
Environmental Working Group at (202) 667-6982. Pay to Spray is also
available on the World Wide Web at http://www.ewg.org.