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Public Papers - 1989

Remarks Announcing Proposed Legislation on Food Safety and Pesticides

1989-10-26

In the first place, I'd like to thank the leaders in Congress on the agricultural side for being here very much.

We're all aware of news stories over the last several months alleging the presence of dangerous levels of pesticides in the food supply. Last March those news stories focused on the pesticide alar in apples. And more recently there were several news stories on EDBC, a pesticide used on fruits and vegetables. And these stories have fueled the public concern about cancer risks and, more important for us, have called into question the Government's ability to ensure a safe supply of food for our citizens. We have the safest food supply in the world -- I'm absolutely convinced of that -- and we're going to keep it that way.

It is true that some of the public's perception is based on valid concerns about the Government's slow and cumbersome process for removing pesticides from the market. And that's why we're here today: to announce a major new initiative by our administration on food safety, a proposal to ensure that America's food supply remains the safest in the world. We need to amend our current food safety laws to speed the process for removing pesticides from the marketplace to protect public health and the environment without being either unreasonable or impractical. And we've been working cooperatively, I might add, with all of you for several months on a number of issues to improve the Government's ability to deal effectively with these pesticides. The proposals that we have set before you represent a consensus carved out after several months of discussions. Secretary Yeutter, Secretary Sullivan, Administrator Reilly are here today to convey wholehearted agreement on these issues.

I've asked the leaders of Congress here from the congressional committees -- whose committees do have jurisdiction over food safety to join us today at this announcement. And I also plan to ask them for their help and cooperation in enacting these proposals into law in an expedited manner. We're going to have a detailed briefing for the press by senior administration officials in the press room immediately following this meeting.

But again, I'm grateful to you, Mr. Chairman and Mr. Chairman, and the other ranking minority members and others, for being here with us today. Thank you very much for coming. And thank you all. And then we will now have a little discussion about this.

Note: The President spoke at 1:25 p.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Representative E. de la Garza, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee; and Senator Patrick J. Leahy, chairman of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee. A tape was not available for verification of the contents of the remarks.

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