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Public Citizen Urges USDA to Extend Food Irradiation Comment Period


For Immediate Release:

July 13, 2000

Public Citizen Urges USDA to Extend Food Irradiation Comment Period

Citizens Denied Opportunity to Comment Electronically

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) should extend itscomment period on the proposed importation of irradiated food by 90 days, Public Citizentold the agency today in a letter.

Public Citizen requested a similar extension on June 28 to give concerned citizens moretime to comment. The USDA did not respond. The request was resubmitted today to emphasizeagain the need to give people more time to comment, and because the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Rules Comment page hasbeen down since last Friday, July 7, severely limiting the public’s ability to submitcomments. Without an extension, the comment period will end on July 25.

In a letter to the agency, Wenonah Hauter, director of PublicCitizen’s Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program, urged the agency to givepeople every opportunity to tell the agency what they think about the proposed importationof irradiated food. The USDA is proposing to allow the irradiation of fruits andvegetables as an alternative to current treatments used to kill fruit flies and seedweevils. Public Citizen has serious concerns about the safety of food irradiation; aprocess the government approved based on questionable research.

“In the sense of fairness, all citizens should be given every opportunityto comment using all possible means,” Hauter wrote. “After all, our democracydepends on citizen participation. Don’t deny concerned citizens the right to commenton this issue of grave concern.”

Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy organization with a membership of 150,000, beganresearching the impacts of food irradiation more than fifteen years ago. The organizationrecently organized a coalition of more than 175 organizations representing 1 millionAmericans who oppose irradiation of food because of concerns about the safety and thewholesomeness of irradiated food.

Letter:Request for an extention on the comment period for Docket No. 98-030-1Irradiation Phytosanitary Treatment of Imported Fruits and Vegetables