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Groups Deliver a Turkey of a Dinner to Minnesota Senator

Thanksgiving arrived a day early for Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) when GMO labeling activists delivered a white-tablecloth, genetically engineered Thanksgiving dinner to the Senator’s office staff on Wednesday (November 25).

State Director Ben Hill and other staff were surprised, but cordial. They said “no thanks” to the meal, which included apple pie, zucchini, sweet corn, corn bread, papaya and a salmon surprise Jello dish. But they did listen to our concerns.

The message behind the meal, organized by members of Right to Know Minnesota, Food and Water Watch and Organic Consumers Association, was this: Klobuchar needs to stand up for Minnesotan’s rights to know what’s in their food, and the right of Minnesota and other states to pass laws requiring the labeling of foods that contain genetically engineered (GMO) ingredients—and that means also protecting the GMO labeling laws already passed by Connecticut, Maine and Vermont. 

The groups also called on Klobuchar to oppose a proposal, reportedly supported by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), the ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, to substitute the use of QR codes for wording on packaging, 

Organic farmer and GMO expert Jim Riddle, who helped deliver the Thanksgiving dinner, said that requiring consumers to use QR codes to determine if foods contain GMOs is “elitist, unreliable, time consuming, obscure, insecure and unnecessary.” Manufacturers should be required to tell consumers if their products contain GMOs by displaying four simple words on their packaging: “Contains genetically engineered ingredients,” Riddle said. (Watch the video).

According to Riddle, the Minnesota Farmers Union at its recent convention overwhelmingly adopted a resolution to “oppose efforts in Congress to prohibit states from implementing mandatory GMO labeling laws.” 

Meanwhile, Stabenow told the media she’s working on a Senate bill that would prevent a “patchwork of 50 state laws” and wants the bill passed by the end of the year. With time running out, there’s also talk that she or other members of the Senate may be pressured by Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association to attach a last-minute rider to the end-of-year appropriations bill, forcing Congress to either approve the measure or face a government shutdown.

Although Klobuchar portrays herself as a consumer advocate, she has repeatedly voted against GMO labeling and has not assured Minnesotans, despite having received petitions and letters from thousands of constituents, that she will fight this bad food bill.

Patrick Kerrigan is retail coordinator for the Organic Consumers Association.