Thursday, June 24, 2010

Still Fighting to Protect Our Access to Vitamins!

Over the last week or two, a joint House-Senate conference committee has been considering ways to reconcile two competing federal Wall Street reform bills and turn them into a single bill that both chambers can support. The US House’s Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009 (HR.4173) and the US Senate’s Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010 (S.3217) differ in cost and content, most notably for us in that the Senate version does not give the broad new regulatory powers to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that the House version would. By removing limits on its power that are enshrined in current laws, the FTC could impose harsh new requirements on all businesses, even those completely unrelated to Wall Street, banking, or the financial sector; including NOW Foods and other food and dietary supplement manufacturers.

How do we expect that the FTC would act if given such new power? The agency has indicated that it wants to impose stricter standards on any advertising of dietary supplements. Past consent decrees that settled disputes with supplement companies have required strong disclaimers and much more evidence to support any future promotional claims. Consumer advocate organizations have urged the agency to require that multiple clinical trails be done on any advertised product, not just on its ingredients, to support advertising claims. However, such trials take many months, are very expensive, and are not required by current law allowing claims to be based on the body of science backing the active ingredients in a product. If the FTC and anti-business consumer advocates have their way, label claims and advertising will be far more restricted than is presently allowed. Of course, ads already have to be truthful and not misleading, so that’s not really an issue. But the FTC still wants more power so it can unilaterally impose a new regulatory scheme that bypasses today’s requirements for hearings, public comments, and due process before it can change the rules that we operate under.

Do you support another government takeover of an American industry? But this time, for an industry that is not hurting or asking for federal bailouts? One whose products are overwhelmingly proven in the real world to be safe and that helps Americans to maintain good health? Do you believe in freedom of speech for commercial interests like vitamin makers, as long as their ads continue to be honest and not misleading? If so, we are fighting to be protected from a big federal power grab.

Take action now to tell your Senators and Representative in Congress that you want to continue to impose Congress’ reasonable limits on the FTC, rather than expanding its powers. Go to to learn how to Take Action and express your concerns!

Following is a list of the people on the joint Congressional committee deciding how the bill will be reconciled. They have the most immediate say on how the reconciled bill will read. However, all Senators and representatives will be asked to vote on the final reconciled bill, so it doesn't hurt to ask them to tell the negotiators to pull the FTC provision out of the bill even if they're not on the joint committee!

House of Representative members on Conference Committee: Frank (D-Massachusetts); Kanjorski (D-Pennsylvania); Waters (D California); Maloney (D-New York), Gutierrez (D-Illinois); Watt (D-North Carolina); Meeks (D-New York); Moore (D-Kansas); Kilroy (D-Ohio) and Peters (D-Michigan); Bachus (R-Alabama); Barton (R-Texas); Graves (R-Missouri); Issa (D-California); Lucas (R- Oklahoma); Smith (R-Texas); Royce (R-California); Biggert (R-Illinois); Capito (R-West Virginia); Hensarling (R-Texas) and Garrett (R-New Jersey).

Senate conferees: Dodd (D-Connecticut); Shelby (R-Alabama); Johnson (D-South Dakota); Reed (D-Rhode Island); Schumer (D-New York); Corker (R-Tennessee); Crapo (R-Idaho); and Gregg (R-New Hampshire). Also appointed as negotiators are Senators Lincoln (D-Arkansas); Chambliss (R-Georgia); Leahy (D-Vermont); and Harkin (D-Iowa).

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