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the1000things
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The Contender
Ahtiz
Con (against)
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California Proposition 65 Should Be Repealed

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/31/2011 Category: Health
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,026 times Debate No: 17719
Debate Rounds (3)
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Votes (1)

 

the1000things

Pro

First round for acceptance. Proposition 65 was a ballot initiative in the 80s that forced all resteraunts selling foods with certain chemicals in them to post a sign along the lines of:
"WARNING: This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm."

http://en.wikipedia.org...(1986)

The Proposition passed with a 63% vote in favor. In this round I will contend that the law should be repealed. No semantics, please. Thanks!
Ahtiz

Con

-I would like to thank my opponent for instigating this argument, and I look forward to a thought-provoking debate.

-As the Con, I will simply be arguing that California's Proposition 65 should not be repealed in any way.

(Repealed being "to revoke or withdraw formally or officially")

http://dictionary.reference.com...
Debate Round No. 1
the1000things

Pro

Thanks for accepting, this will be a fun and productive debate!

I'm a high school debater. This summer, I attended a several week long camp at UCLA dedicated to debate (specifically, LD). I had never been to California before. For all I was concerned, people did a lot of pot there and apparently were all gay in San Francisco - second-hand information from Texas is evidently not that reliable, but whatever.

I arrived in LAX two days before camp was supposed to start. Given that I had nothing else to do, I decided to do all the tourist-y things in LA. I went to Groaman's Chinese Theater (I'm not going to attempt to spell that correctly), Venice Beach, etc etc. I also visited the Universal Studios amusement park. It was there that I first encountered this puzzling sign. Upon ordering an overpriced burger with heart stopping amounts of butter, bacon and salt, I looked behind the cash register and noticed this sign:

WARNING: This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm.

There was a picture of a crying baby or something along those lines on it, if I recall correctly. Quaint. Puzzled as to why that was up there in the first place, I asked the cashier (who happened to be the manager) why it was there.

"Yeah, it's state law. They came up to me, and I was like, 'You want me to put that sign in my resteraunt? Um, no.' But they told me it was like the law so I had to do it."

I then ate my Type II Diabetes on a bun and hoped my baby wouldn't grow a third arm. I'm neither female nor pregnant, so this fear was dispelled with relative ease. Either way, though, I wondered why the California Legislature would create a law like that. On further investigation, I found that it was put in place via a direct vote by the populace of California.

80s California, what was wrong with you?

Repeal CA Proposition 65

The text of the Proposition and the law today (called 'The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986') stipulates that 65 ought to have been passed because of a need:

(a) To protect themselves and the water they drink against chemicals that cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm.
(b) To be informed about exposures to chemicals that cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm.
(c) To secure strict enforcement of the laws controlling hazardous chemicals and deter actions that threaten public health and safety.
(d) To shift the cost of hazardous waste cleanups more onto offenders and less onto law-abiding citizens. The people hereby enact the provisions of this initiative in furtherance of their rights.

The enforcement of the law includes a regulatory list of over 770 chemicals that can allegedly cause cancer and warrant the sign mentioned above in a restaurant. Without a visible sign, the business can be fined up to $2,500 a day. My 2 arguments for the repeal of Prop 65 are below.

1. Bureaucratic Abuse

Proposition 65 ensures that any person may sue a business should there be no sign in the lobby, even if no harm has occurred. This means that private bounty hunters can simply roam cities in order to find businesses in violation. This hurts businesses, especialy smaller ones: the thousands spent in fines can only be outdone by those in legal fees. Scott Tips, the President and General Counsel of the National Health Federation, stated [1],

... one growth industry spawned by Prop 65 consists of numerous private law firms dedicated to shooting first and asking questions later in a "no prisoners taken" attempt to earn huge legal fees while doing a bare-minimum of public good. The State and County governments may also bring legal action, but often it is these vulture firms that are first out of the gate to win the jackpot.

Proposition 65's immense list of chemicals ensures that tehre will always be small businesses violating some form of the law. As Tips pointed out, vulture firms can pick off these businesses, harming the already unstable California economy even more. The massive list of chemicals brings me to my next argument...

2. Scientifically Questionable

It is an indisputable fact that any edible substance consumed in excess will kill you. Be it sodium, sugars, or fats (all necessary for human life), eating enough will kill you. Proposition 65 should be repealed becuase it takes a very non-scientific approach to classifying chemicals (or other substaces) on the controlled list.

One of my favorite substances on the list if "wood dust" [2]. Literally, the dust of wood. As justification, the OHHEA cited a single study by the IARC (http://www.iarc.fr...) from 1995. To quote from said study [3] :

A number of case-control studies on nasopharyngeal cancer have reported an association with employment in

wood-related occupations; however, confounding was not ruled out from these studies, and the largest study,

from Denmark, in which exposure to wood dust was estimated, did not confirm the association. Case-control

studies of laryngeal cancer consistently showed an association with exposure to wood dust or woodworking;

however, cohort studies of woodworkers gave consistently negative results. Overall, these studies provide

suggestive but inconclusive evidence for a causal role of occupational exposure to wood dust in cancers of the

nasopharynx.

Even with inconclusize evidence, the OHHEA will ban the substance on the spot. Yes, wood dust is gross. No, it probably doesn't cause cancer. I may be able to buy that wood dust causes cancer anyways. But, let's be honest, if the food I ate was tasty and had wood dust in it, I'd probably eat it anyways.

Unfortunately, not all documentation of alleged cancer causing substances is as strong, if you could call a single study that. For instance, a quote from the OHHEA papers justifying the banning of substances revealed [4]:

Progestins: In 1987, the IARC published Supplement 7 of its series, IARC Monographs on the

Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans. Here, the IARC concluded that progestins are

“possibly carcinogenic to humans” (Group 2B). Therefore, these substances meet the

requirements of Labor Code section 6382(d).

These same descriptions were used for several other chemicals, such as Styrene, Amsacrine, and Bleonycines. Possibly carcinogenic means that there is conflicting evidence on the claim and much room for study. "Possibility" is not sufficient scientific grounds to make an action. Fun fact: The OHHEA also lists Progesterone as dangerous [5].

Conclusion

Prop 65 should be repealed; no reform can take Prop 65's problems away without changing its basic spirit. Is it bad to have, for instance, Wood dust in a burger? Maybe. But forcing a restaurant to put wood dust on the same plane as, say, arsenic could hurt business. Even if it doesn't, the law is a bureaucratic disaster that costs money to enforce and can harm small business =es with arbitrary prosecutions.

[1]http://www.thenhf.com... ((Tips received his JD at the Berkeley School of Law. The NHF describes itself: "the National Health Federation is an international nonprofit, consumer-education, health-freedom organization working to protect individuals' rights to choose to consume healthy food, take supplements, and use alternative therapies without government restriction"))

[2] http://www.caslab.com...

[3]http://monographs.iarc.fr...

[4] http://www.oehha.ca.gov...

[5] http://www.caslab.com...
Ahtiz

Con

Although there may be a few legal loopholes, Prop. 65 Does much more good than harm, and protects the general populace of California from corporate abuse of dangerous additives.

My basic argument: Prop. 65 should be reformed only slightly in order to alleviate these legal loopholes, of which there are few.

A1) “Bureaucratic Abuse:”


Proposition 65 ensures that any person may sue a business should there be no sign in the lobby, even if no harm has occurred.

-Although this IS true, it is a necessary evil. Due to the America’s underlying legal system, if someone is in violation of a law, they will ALWAYS be open to prosecution. My Opponent says later,

“Prop 65 should be repealed; no reform can take Prop 65's problems away without changing its basic spirit.

First of all: NO new law that could accomplish what Prop. 65 is accomplishing now as far as notifying customers of a possible health threat WITHOUT having the same legal loopholes. Should a new law be created, it would be very similar to the current Prop. 65. Only a slight change would be required that would nullify the possibility of this Bounty Hunter sharking.

In order to avoid prosecution by anyone or any group, a business simply must put up a sign in the lobby. Surely you can’t argue that this is unreasonable or too much trouble. Businesses are already required to put up a sign displaying their right to practice business, the signs that Prop. 65 require are no different.


A2) Scientifically Questionable:”


One of my favorite substances on the list if "wood dust". Literally, the dust of wood.” .....

“Even with inconclusize evidence, the OHHEA will ban the substance on the spot. Yes, wood dust is gross. No, it probably doesn't cause cancer.

-Here, we must look at a very important point. The OEHHA specifically states that exemptions may be provided by the act under certain circumstances. Should a business owner feel that a chemical is harmless, (like wood dust,) he may freely seek such an exemption. [1]

“let's be honest, if the food I ate was tasty and had wood dust in it, I'd probably eat it anyways.

As an individual, I happen to agree with you here^. But not everyone in the state of California shares that opinion, and they deserve to at least be notified of what they're about to eat.

These same descriptions were used for several other chemicals, such as Styrene, Amsacrine, and Bleonycines. Possiblycarcinogenic means that there is conflicting evidence on the claim and much room for study. "Possibility" is not sufficient scientific grounds to make an action.”

Hydrogen cyanide (An extremely lethal toxin) was discovered in 1782 by Carl Scheele. [2] He did not know for sure at the time that it was poisonous, but there was indeed a “Possibility.” Just as that chemical was discovered in 1782, new chemicals have been discovered very recently that have a good “possibility” of being poisonous. And just as Cyanide was in fact discovered to be lethal, many recently discovered chemicals have been proven to be toxic at the least. It would be inexcusable to allow ANY chemical to be placed into publicly sold food that has a "possibility" of being toxic without AT LEAST warning the general public.

(It was not stated in the opening “instigation” whether this round will contain the final conclusion, but since my opponent offered one, I will do the same.)

Conclusion:

Prop. 65 is a necessary safe-guard against corporate abuse of chemicals. Without it, the public would be denied the right to know what they are putting into their own bodies, which is ethically unacceptable.

The law does exactly what it was meant to do. This law should be reformed slightly to close loopholes allowing bounty hunters to exploit businesses that infringe the law. Should this law be repealed, another law would have to come about to get the job done as far as notifying the public as to the possibly harmful contents of their food. This law (Due to the fact that it would be accomplishing the exact same goal,) would be so similar to Prop. 65 that it would nullify the need for a repeal in the first place.

Sources: [1] http://oehha.ca.gov...

[2] http://www.cbwinfo.com...

Debate Round No. 2
the1000things

Pro

Thanks for the response, and I'm sorry that mine is so late. I'll first discuss my opponent's argument against my case and then deconstruct his own.

1. Bureaucratic Abuse

The main point of this contention was to show that the very nature of Proposition 65 (hence 65) allows such abuses - my opponent fails to counter this thesis.


"First of all: NO new law that could accomplish what Prop. 65 is accomplishing now as far as notifying customers of a possible health threat WITHOUT having the same legal loopholes. Should a new law be created, it would be very similar to the current Prop. 65. Only a slight change would be required that would nullify the possibility of this Bounty Hunter sharking."

1. 65 does not notify me of possible health threats. Since it is a sign that could literally mean 700+ plus things, I do not know if I'm consuming wood dust or acid. There's no specific list. The FDA can do its job in California and protect us without the help of 65.
2. I am not advocating a new law, but a total repeal of 65 and no replacement.
3. Bounty hunting is inherent to 65. You have not exapained what reforms or "slight change" could prevent bounty hunting in 65: indeed, because anyone can sue the restaurants for a lack of sign, even wihtout harms (somehting you say is necessary), bounty hunting will continue as long as Prop 65 is in place.

2. Scientifically Questionable

Here, we must look at a very important point. The OEHHA specifically states that exemptions may be provided by the act under certain circumstances. Should a business owner feel that a chemical is harmless, (like wood dust,) he may freely seek such an exemption. [1]

1. These exemptions are not applicable to the 700 substances on the list; this is non-unique. The source clearly states that this was a single event in August of 2005, not a recurring policy. My opponent has not provided evidence saying this is a recurring policy.
2. The exemptions do not apply to any of the scientifically arbitrary items on the list already. I quote: "an exemption from the warning requirement is provided by the Act when a person in the course of doing business is able to demonstrate that an exposure for which he or she is responsible produces no observable reproductive effect, assuming exposure at 1,000 times the level in question". And yet, wood dust - etc - are still on there, becuase it is hard to demonstrate a substance X is harmless without a controlled study, which businesses generally cannot afford to do (guilty until proven innocent, much?). As a result, 65 relies on sketchy meta-studies with conflicting results to determine harmfulness.

As an individual, I happen to agree with you here^. But not everyone in the state of California shares that opinion, and they deserve to at least be notified of what they're about to eat.

1. To reiterate, Prop 65 does not notify me of possible health threats. Since it is a sign that could literally mean 700+ plus things, I do not know if I'm consuming wood dust or acid.

Hydrogen cyanide (An extremely lethal toxin) was discovered in 1782 by Carl Scheele. [2] He did not know for sure at the time that it was poisonous, but there was indeed a “Possibility.” Just as that chemical was discovered in 1782, new chemicals have been discovered very recently that have a good “possibility” of being poisonous...

1. Finding a new chemical and automatically putting on all lists of banned substances would be allowed under the logical presented by CON. Until there is reason to believe that something is poisonous (you find out quickly) it should not be controlled.
2. The FDA can already do this job. It has more resources and better research than the OHHEA. If there is reaosn to believe something is toxic, the FDA will be all over it. If there is no reason to believe so, then no one should preemptively blacklist it.
3. This is entirely non-unique. The list of 770 substances on the OHHEA website are still consumed. The list does nothing to protect people from what CON calls a "good possibility" of being poisoned." The sign in the restaurant does very little, arguably.
4. My opponent does not respond to the entire argument that 65's list is sketchy when it comes to science, so presume it dropped.

The conclusion was really just another section overviewing. Sorry for the conclusion.

My opponent tries to maintain that Prop 65 is necessary for public health and without it new laws would spring up. This is false; California is one of few states with such laws. Texas, for instance, makes it without such a law. So do Wisconsin, Illinois, New York, and many more. The FDA does the job that 65 seeks to do but without the business-harming sign and with more consumer protection.

My opponent has also failed to explain how to reform 65 to fill in legal loopholes. He simply asserts it should be done but does not extrapolate and the mechanics.

Vote Pro.
Ahtiz

Con

Ahtiz forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
No comments have been posted on this debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Wallstreetatheist 5 years ago
Wallstreetatheist
the1000thingsAhtizTied
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