Late last night (Thursday, July 7), 63 U.S. Senators voted to rob you of the right to know what’s in your food.
If you watched any of the Senate “debate” (limited to 30 hours) on the Roberts-Stabenow DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act, you heard one after another of these 63 Senators misrepresent this industry-written bill as a “uniform federal mandatory labeling solution.”
If you’ve been working on this issue with us for weeks, or months or years, you know that’s a lie.
The bill passed last night is intended to hide information (behind electronic codes) from consumers, not provide it—in plain English, on a label.
The bill passed last night is intended to exempt the vast majority of GMOs from even having to be hidden behind codes, much less labeled in plain sight.
The bill passed last night is voluntary—it contains no enforcement mechanism, no penalties for non-compliance.
The bill passed last night is an attack on democracy, an attack on states’ rights. It not only overturns Vermont’s carefully considered and fairly debated mandatory GMO labeling law, but as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) noted in his speech on the Senate floor, this bill overturns nearly 100 other state laws. (Sanders pushed hard to stop this bill).
The bill passed last night is a fraud, an affront to the nine out of 10 Americans who want what citizens in 64 countries already have—the basic right to know what’s in our food.
The 63 Senators who sided with (and took hundreds of millions of dollars from) Monsanto and Big Food, stole your right to know, and whatever shred of belief you might still have had in the democratic process.
But they did not steal your power to boycott any brand or company that refuses to label GMOs. They did not steal your determination to take back an unhealthy, toxic, corrupt corporate food and farming system.
On Wednesday (July 6), during the cloture vote (which assured that the Roberts-Stabenow bill would not be open for discussion or amendments), OCA led a protest on the Senate floor. That protest led to the arrest and detainment, for over 24 hours, of our political director, Alexis Baden-Mayer. We didn’t change the vote. But we took a stand.
The Roberts-Stabenow bill will now go back to the U.S. House, which in July 2015 passed its own version of the DARK Act. If the House and Senate reach an agreement, Congress will vote on a bill to keep you in the dark. That bill will then land on President Obama’s desk.
We will continue to fight it all the way. We hope you will, too.
Watch the OCA ‘money bomb’ protest
There’s nothing worse than being betrayed by one of your own—unless you’re betrayed by more than one of your own.
While pretending to work on behalf of consumers who want mandatory GMO labeling laws, some of the “big names” in the organic industry actually helped cut a backroom deal on the Roberts-Stabenow bill, a bill that isn’t mandatory, doesn’t require actual labels, and exempts the most common GMO ingredients.
The growing list of Organic Traitors includes the head of Whole Foods Market, Walter Robb; Gary Hirschberg, the CEO of Stonyfield Farm and the pseudo-pro GMO labeling group Just Label It; the Environmental Working Group, represented by Scott Faber, former head lobbyist for the pro-biotech Grocery Manufacturers Association; UNFI, the largest wholesaler of natural and organic foods; and the OTA, led by “natural” brands such as Smuckers and White Wave, and represented by their Board Chair Melissa Hughes from Organic Valley.
These self-selected “Good Food” and “Organic” leaders told Congress members behind closed doors that the organic community would accept an industry-crafted DARK Act “compromise"—the Stabenow/Roberts bill— which eliminates mandatory GMO labeling and preempts the Vermont law with a convoluted and deceptive federal regime for QR codes and 1-800 numbers, exempts the most common GMO ingredients, comes with no firm guidelines for implementation, and no provisions whatsoever for enforcement.
In fact, by some calculations, the Organic Trade Association alone persuaded 7 – 10 Senators to betray you, and vote for the DARK Act.
That’s right, while you were working your hearts out to get labels on GMO foods, the Organic Traitors were working just as hard—to make sure you don’t.
Read Ronnie’s essay
When the U.S. Senate voted last night to pass a federal law preempting Vermont’s mandatory GMO labeling law, 30 Senators did the right thing.
These 30 Senators voted against this anti-consumer, anti-states’ rights bill that was rammed through the Senate without due democratic process.
Some of these Senators were no doubt under a lot of pressure from industry groups, and from their fellow Senators, including the authors of the bill, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), to go over to the DARK side.
But they stood up to their deep-pocketed opponents. They voted with the people.
Please take a minute to see if your Senators on the list of those who stood up for your right to know yesterday, then "tweet" them a thank you. It's also good to retweet the Senators' own tweets about yesterday's vote.
Remember—this bill still has to make its way through the House, survive a full vote in Congress and be signed into law by President Obama. Let's keep the Senators who voted with us by showing our thanks!
TAKE ACTION: Tweet your Senators!
We were busy this week. Meeting with Senators and their staffers in multiple cities. Protesting outside Senate home district offices.
And in one case, getting arrested for pointing out the obvious on the Senate floor—that Monsanto is buying votes to keep us in the dark about GMOs.
Staff in Chicago worked hard to bring Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) over to our side—and at the last minute, succeeded.
Staff in Minneapolis protested often and loudly outside Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s (D-Minn.) office after attempts to win her over failed.
In Portland, Maine, we and our allies at Food & Water Watch managed a last-minute video conference with Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) on the morning of the cloture vote, and a conference call with Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) just hours before that vote. They voted our way.
From our office in Finland, Minn., staff relentlessly responded to calls, made calls, kept up with last-minute developments.
As we touched base with each other in between meetings and protests and making phone calls and sending letters, we all expressed this same sentiment: We are honored to be doing this work. And we are grateful to you for making it possible.
Thank you for pulling through for us again during our latest fundraising campaign. Whether we ultimately win or lose this labeling battle, thanks to you, we are building a food and farming movement that is stronger than ever. While Monsanto continues to bribe our lawmakers, we will continue to expose the industrial agriculture system for what it is: toxic, corrupt, monopolistic and degenerative.
And we will win.
Donate to the Organic Consumers Association (tax-deductible, helps support our work on behalf of organic standards, fair trade and public education)
Donate to the Organic Consumers Fund (non-tax-deductible, but necessary for our GMO labeling legislative efforts)
Why would the U.S. Senate vote to keep the words “produced with genetic engineering” off of food products—when 90 percent of Americans want this basic information? And 64 other countries require it?
In comments he made July 1 in Vermont, Sen. Bernie Sanders sums it up this way:
“The Grocery Manufacturers Association, which sued and lost in trying to stop Vermont’s law, has 34 lobbyists working on this issue alone. They spent $8.5 million lobbying between 2015-2016, and they’re still lobbying . . . . The food and biotech industries and their trade associations have spent nearly $200 million to oppose state labeling initiatives, like [Vermont’s] Act 120. When combined with Washington lobbying expenditures that mention GMO labeling, the total amount spent by corporate interests is close to $400 million.”
It doesn’t matter which political party you belong to. It doesn’t even matter if you support mandatory labeling of GMO foods.
What matters is this: As long as we allow corporations to buy votes, we can’t claim to have a democracy.
Watch the video
We can think of a lot of reasons we as taxpayers shouldn’t have to subsidize millions upon millions of acres of genetically engineered corn, soy and other crops—monoculture crops that destroy biodiversity, deplete soils, and contribute to global warming.
Now, a new study in JAMA Internal Medicine confirms that the crops our government subsidizes also produce food that’s bad for us.
The researchers used 24-hour dietary recall data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They calculated what portion of caloric intake was from subsidized foods for each individual and then looked at health outcomes, including body mass index, abdominal fat and blood pressure, between 2001 and 2006.
The researchers found that about 56 percent of all calories consumed were from subsidized commodities. Adults in the top quarter of subsidized crop calorie consumption had a greater risk of a higher body mass index, higher cholesterol and other health concerns. They found no statistically significant association with subsidized food consumption and blood pressure, however. The paper says shifting subsidies to fruits and vegetables might be worth exploring, pointing to a time when Finland helped dairy farmers transition to berry production, which increased local berry consumption.
From 1995-2014, your tax dollars subsidized $94.3 billion worth of GMO corn alone. Isn’t it time we started subsidizing regenerative agriculture, instead of degenerative GMO commodity crops?
Read Time magazine coverage
Read the abstract
If you’re looking to combine international travel, adventure and organic food and agriculture education, you’re in luck. OCA, along with our Regeneration International and Vía Orgánica projects, have scheduled a full slate of eight-day eco tours in the central highlands of Mexico.
Deadline for the next tour, which starts on August 9, is July 9. If you can’t make the August tour, you can also register ahead of time for another of the upcoming tours (dates and deadlines here).
Our eco tours include accommodations at Vía Orgánica’s eco ranch and farm school, which serves as an educational farm and training center for farmers, students and activists in the organic food movement. The ranch includes a natural retreat center with adobe buildings, walking trails, solar power, rainwater catchment, and greywater and composting systems.
Tours also include side trips to San Miguel de Allende and other World Heritage sites, trail rides and nature walks, horseback riding, and organic farming and cooking workshops—and of course, the opportunity to join in lively discussions with OCA and Vía Orgánica staff and other tour participants. Cost for accommodations and all-organic meals is $1250 per person.
For more information or to register contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Factory Farming and Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO)—Worldwide Distributors of DiseaseHow the World’s Most Fertile Soil Can Help Reverse Climate ChangeGenetically Engineered Crops: the Grand and Failed PromiseSide Effects of Long-Term Pesticide ExposureSystemic Corruption at FDA ReportedFrom Mommy Bloggers to Clandestine Spies, Here's How Monsanto's PR Company Controls the GMO Debate