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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
APRIL 5, 2001
6:00 PM
CONTACT:  Public Citizen
Booth Gunter (202) 588-7742
Bush School Lunch Proposal: Yet Another Favor to Special Interests That Funded Campaign
Companies, Industry Groups Donated Heavily to Bush Presidential Campaign
 
WASHINGTON - April 5 - President Bush’s proposal to reject a Clinton administration requirement that all beef served to children in the school lunch program be tested for salmonella and instead be irradiated is the latest in a series of moves intended to weaken consumer protection laws for the benefit of his corporate supporters, Public Citizen said Thursday.

Numerous companies and industry groups that would benefit from the proposal not only contributed heavily to Bush’s presidential campaign, but their executives assumed key roles on the president’s transition team, according to research by Public Citizen.

During 2000, food companies and industry groups with a major stake in the proliferation of irradiated food gave $3.3 million to national Republican Party committees and federal candidates. Those same companies gave $654,000 to national Democratic Party committees and federal candidates. The companies include IBP (formerly known as Iowa Beef Packers) and Tyson Foods. The industry groups include the Food Marketing Institute and National Food Processors Association.

"Children deserve -- and their parents expect -- school lunches to be fresh, safe and wholesome, not nutritionally deficient and chemically altered by high doses of ionizing radiation," said Joan Claybrook, Public Citizen president. "This proposal is nothing more than a payback to corporations that contributed to President Bush’s campaign, which was the most expensive campaign in history. The president has no shame."

On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a proposal to abandon a Clinton administration policy to conduct bacterial testing of meat served as part of the USDA’s National School Lunch Program. More than 26 million children eat food provided by the program. While the USDA backed away from this proposal earlier today, the Bush administration has not dropped plans to serve irradiated meat to school children.

Numerous food companies and industry groups that would benefit from the rollback of USDA’s salmonella testing rule and proposal to require purchase irradiated meat for the school lunch program contributed heavily to the Bush campaign and the Republican Party, and served on Bush’s transition team. Among them:

The Food Marketing Institute gave $739,567 to the Republican Party and GOP candidates last year. FMI President/CEO Timothy Hammonds served on Bush’s Agriculture Transition Advisory Team and personally donated the maximum allowable amount of $1,000 to Bush’s presidential campaign. Hammonds also was a member of Bush "Pioneers" -- people responsible for raising more than $100,000 for his campaign. Hammonds and the FMI actively support food irradiation and oppose certain measures to test meat for E. coli.

The Grocery Manufacturers of America gave $242,925 to the Republican Party and GOP candidates last year. GMA President/CEO C. Manly Molpus served on Bush’s Agriculture Transition Advisory Team and personally donated the maximum allowable amount of $1,000 to Bush’s presidential campaign. During a recent speech, Molpus spoke of the need to "promote" irradiation and "help consumers learn more" about the technology.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association gave $389,170 to the Republican Party and GOP candidates last year. NCBA Vice President Chandler Keys served on Bush’s Agriculture Transition Advisory Team. The organization is among the most active industry supporters of food irradiation.

"The time has come for President Bush to realize that he was elected by the people, not by corporations," said Frank Clemente, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch. "The U.S. government has not adequately tested the safety of irradiated food. By serving it to school children, Bush would show his true colors."

The table on the attached page provides a breakdown of the contributions to all national party committees and federal candidates in the 1999-2000 election cycle from meat and poultry industry interests.

Total Federal Contributions from Meat and Poultry Industry

1999 - 2000

Organization

Amount

Democrats

Republicans

Food Marketing Institute

$795,233

$55,666

$739,567

ConAgra Inc

$466,950

$70,043

$396,908

National Cattlemen's Beef Association

$457,847

$68,677

$389,170

Food Distributors International

$364,113

$5,609

$358,504

Grocery Manufacturers of America

$266,950

$24,026

$242,925

Monsanto Co

$239,010

$109,945

$129,065

National Food Processors Association

$227,225

$6,817

$220,408

Nabisco Holdings

$223,022

$46,835

$176,187

National Chicken Council

$152,595

$49,324

$103,271

IBP Inc. (formerly known as Iowa Beef Packers)

$126,000

$4,960

$121,040

Tyson Foods

$124,695

$48,631

$76,064

United Egg Association

$112,464

$40,896

$71,568

National Pork Producers Council

$109,321

$60,127

$49,194

National Turkey Federation

$84,843

$34,280

$50,563

American Frozen Food Institute

$85,580

$4,279

$81,301

Gold Kist

$69,350

$18,725

$50,626

Cattle Feeding & Ranching

$25,250

$0

$25,250

California Poultry Industry Federation

$11,750

$5,523

$6,228

Totals

$3,942,198

$654,359

$3,287,838

Note: Includes contributions from PACs, soft money donors and individuals giving $200 or more.

Source: Center for Responsive Politics (www.opensecrets.org

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