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EXCERPTS FROM FINAL HEARINGS
Although food bills of various kinds had been continually before Congress for a quarter of a century, the character of the opposition thereto had not changed. The excerpts here given are typical of the whole struggle.
Inasmuch as this closing testimony was the final effort to block the passage of the food law, it is summarized at some length. Testimony of Walter H. Williams, President of the Walter H. Williams Company, of Detroit, Michigan. (Page 19 of the hearings.)
In the most palatable foods that we can find there are traces of benzoic acid, and it seems to me if the Almighty put it there, the manufacturer ought to be allowed to use it, if he don't use it in the same quantities as put in the fruit by nature. * * *
We went to three men, each of them connected with one of the largest universities in the United States, men who stand at the very top of their class in the chemical and physiological world.
MR. TOWNSEND: Who were they?
MR. WILLIAMS: Dr. Victor Vaughan, who is dean of medicine and physiology at the University of Michigan, a man whom I do not believe any one can speak too highly of, a man right at the top of his profession. Another gentleman, Dr. Kremers, dean of chemistry of the University of Wisconsin. Another man who has given the subject the very closest attention is Dr. Frank Kedzie of the Michigan Agricultural College. * * *
MR. TOWNSEND: Do you know of any manufacturer of these goods who does not use some form of preservative?
MR. WILLIAMS: I do not.
MR. TOWNSEND: As a manufacturer, do you know of any way to manufacture these goods and keep them as they have to be kept for sale, without a preservative?
MR. WILLIAMS: I do not.
MR. BURKE: Have you had any trouble in any of the states by reason of the state laws interfering with your using this preservative?
MR. WILLIAMS: Our firm has not. We have been told that as soon as this committee gets through with the hearings on this subject there is going to be trouble in Pennsylvania. That is all we know about it.
MR. RICHARDSON: How? What troubles? In what way?
MR. WILLIAMS: We understand that the use of benzoic acid will be condemned, and we also know that as soon as this bill becomes a law, if it ever becomes a law, it will be condemned by the Bureau of Chemistry. * * * Now, the only point is--and all I wish to bring out now--that I don't think this committee ought to recommend any legislation that will give one man the absolute power to say what the manufacturers of this country shall do and what they shall not do. There is a difference of opinion as to what is injurious and what is not injurious. We can show that the best scientific thought in this country will differ with the present Bureau of Chemistry. Now, gentlemen, do not understand for a moment that I am attacking Dr. Wiley or the Bureau of Chemistry or the Department of Agriculture. I am simply pointing out, or trying to point out, the principle of this bill. The principle is wrong. It is not fair; and I think before you allow anyone to condemn any preservative about which there is a question that you ought to investigate the subject fully by a committee of scientists--the best that we can find-appointed by the President or by Congress.
In this connection it is interesting to know that the bill subsequently passed by the House of Representatives contained, a clause, with my full approval, and written by myself, in which such a committee was recognized. Its composition was one eminent chemist, one eminent physiologist, one eminent pharmacist, one eminent bacteriologist, and one eminent pharmacologist. In view of the attitude which the Secretary of Agriculture held toward me at that time I was very certain that he would consult me in regard to the personnel of this committee which was to be appointed by him, and that not only eminent, but fair-minded members would be appointed on this committee. When the bill went to conference with the Senate bill the conferees on the part of the Senate would not consent to encumbering the bill with an additional authority paramount to that of the Bureau of Chemistry. The Senate conferees contended that the whole matter of wholesomeness and unwholesomeness of ingredients in foods would go before the Federal Courts for final determination. The House conferees yielded on this point and the food bill was passed without the nucleus of the Remsen Board. This view of Mr. Williams was shared by practically all the objecting witnesses, both scientific and legal, as well as all of those interested in commercial matters throughout the whole course of the discussion of the various food bills before the committees of Congress. It was also voiced on the floors of both the Senate and the House. In spite of all this publicity and opposition the Congress. of the United States conferred upon the Bureau of Chemistry the sole function of acting as a grand jury in bringing indictments against offenders or supposed offenders of the law. The Congress specifically provided that all these indictments should have a fair, free and open trial before the Federal Courts for the purpose of confirming or denying the acts of, the Bureau of Chemistry.