Organic Consumers Association

Campaigning for health, justice, sustainability, peace, and democracy

How Will Your Representative Vote on the DARK ACT?

Will your Member of Congress vote “Yes” or “No” on H.R. 1599?

H.R. 1599, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, has aptly been renamed the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act because it would preempt states’ rights to pass GMO labeling laws and GMO crop bans, and would forbid food manufacturers from labeling their products GMO-Free, unless they use new (weak and inferior) standards developed by the USDA. The bill, which we’re now calling the Mother of All Monsanto Protection Acts, would also guarantee the FDA never conducts independent, pre-market safety testing on GMO foods.

Few Members of Congress have yet revealed their position on H.R. 1599, but some members of the Energy & Commerce Health Subcommittee and the Agriculture Biotech Subcommittee showed their hands at hearings in June.

The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) and Food and Water Watch (FWW) have been meeting with the staff of some members of these committees, in their home district offices. Please scroll through this list to see if your Congress member is on one of these committees, and, if so, where he or she stands on the DARK Act. Please help us thank those members who have promised to vote NO, convince the UNDECIDEDS to also vote NO, and change the minds of those who plan to vote YES.

Can you organize a meeting with one of these committee members?

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas): UNDECIDED. If you live in Rep. Barton’s district, please contact campaigns@organicconsumers.org to arrange a meeting with his office. If you can’t do a meeting, please call his office at (202) 225-2002 and ask him to oppose H.R. 1599.

Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Ind.): LIKELY YES. Brooks isn’t yet a DARK Act cosponsor, but a look at her campaign contributors (Eli Lilly, Farm Bureau) suggests she’ll support H.R. 1599. This was confirmed at last week’s hearing when, after a shout-out to a GMO seed vendor, Becks Hybrids, Rep. Brooks yielded her five minutes to H.R. 1599’s lead sponsor, Rep. Pompeo.

If you live in Rep. Brooks’ district, please contact campaigns@organicconsumers.org to arrange a meeting with her office. If you can’t do a meeting, please call her office at 202-225-2276 and ask her to vote NO on H.R. 1599.

Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.): LIKELY YES. Rep. Bucshon isn’t yet a DARK Act cosponsor, but he spoke up in support of the bill at the June 18 hearing. He’s a medical doctor and gets most of his campaign funding from doctors’ organizations, the insurance industry and pharmaceutical companies. Eli Lilly, one Rep. Bucshon’s campaign contributors, owns and markets rBGH, the genetically engineered growth hormone given to cows to make them over-produce milk. (rBGH was originally created by Monsanto). Rep. Bucshon is also supported by the Farm Bureau, GMO agriculture’s top front group.

If you live in Rep. Bucshon’s district, please contact campaigns@organicconsumers.org to arrange a meeting with his office. If you can’t do a meeting, please call his office at (202) 225-4636 and ask him to oppose H.R 1599.

Rep. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-Texas): UNDECIDED. If you live in Rep. Burgess’ district, please contact campaigns@organicconsumers.org to arrange a meeting with his office. If you can’t do a meeting, please call his office at (202) 225-7772 and ask him to oppose H.R. 1599.

Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.): YES. Rep. Butterfield is the lead Democratic cosponsor of the DARK Act. He’s on the Monsanto payroll, taking $2,500 for his 2014 campaign. At last week’s hearing, Rep. Butterfield claimed that H.R. 1599 “reduces confusion by providing consumers with labeling uniformity across state lines.” That’s not true, of course.

If you live in Rep. Butterfield’s district, please contact campaigns@organicconsumers.org to arrange a meeting with his office. If you can’t do a meeting, please call his office at (202) 225-3101 and ask him to oppose H.R. 1599.

Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-Calif.): UNDECIDED. If you live in Rep. Cardenas’ district, please contact alexis@organicconsumers.org to arrange a meeting with his office. If you can’t do a meeting, please call his office at (202) 225-6131 and ask him to oppose H.R. 1599.

Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.): YES. Rep. Collins is a DARK Act cosponsor. He receives campaign donations from some of the biggest players in the GMO food and crops industries, including Pepsi and BASF.

If you live in Rep. Collins’ district, please contact campaigns@organicconsumers.org to arrange a meeting with his office. If you can’t do a meeting, please call his office at 202-225-5265 and ask him to oppose H.R. 1599.

Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.): LIKELY YES. Rep. Denham isn’t yet a DARK Act cosponsor, but he signed onto a letter in support of H.R. 1599. He’s on the Monsanto payroll, having taken $3,000 in the last election cycle. He didn’t participate in the June 25 hearing, so we don’t have quotes to get you riled up, but we hope you’ll be inspired to reach out to him nevertheless.

If you live in Rep. Denham’s district, please contact campaigns@organicconsumers.org to arrange a meeting with his office. If you can’t do a meeting, please call his office at (202) 225-4540 and ask him to reconsider his support for H.R. 1599.

Rep. Marcia Fudge (D- Ohio): UNDECIDED. Rep. Fudge has taken money from a number of interests opposed to consumers’ right to know about GMOs, including Coca-Cola, Pepsi, BASF, American Frozen Food Institute, Land O’ Lakes, National Pork Producers Council, American Beverage Association, General Mills, Eli Lilly, Farm Bureau, International Dairy Foods Association, National Corn Growers Association, Food Marketing Institute, Grocery Manufacturers Association, and the National Confectioners Association, but it appears she’s genuinely undecided on the DARK Act. She didn’t participate in the June 25 hearing, so we really don’t know where she stands.

If you live in Rep. Fudge’s district, please contact campaigns@organicconsumers.org to arrange a meeting with her office. If you can’t do a meeting, please call her office at (202) 225-7032 and ask her to oppose H.R. 1599.

Rep. Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.): UNDECIDED. Rep. Gibson has taken money from GMO sugar beet interests (American Crystal Sugar), but it appears he’s genuinely undecided on the DARK Act. He didn’t participate in the June 25 hearing, so we really don’t know where he stands.

If you live in Rep. Gibson’s district, please contact campaigns@organicconsumers.org to arrange a meeting with his office. If you can’t do a meeting, please call his office at (202) 225-5614 and ask him to oppose H.R. 1599.

Rep. Gwen Graham (D-Fla.) : UNDECIDED. Rep. Graham doesn’t take money from agribusiness, but she didn’t participate in the June 25 hearing, so we really don’t know where she stands.

If you live in Rep. Graham’s district, please contact campaigns@organicconsumers.org to arrange a meeting with her office. If you can’t do a meeting, please call her office at (202) 225-5235 and ask her to oppose H.R. 1599.

Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.): YES. Rep. Guthrie is a DARK Act cosponsor who’s taken Monsanto’s money. If you live in Rep. Guthrie’s district, please contact campaigns@organicconsumers.org to arrange a meeting with his office. If you can’t do a meeting, please call his office at (202) 225-3501 and ask him to oppose H.R. 1599.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.): UNDECIDED. Rep. Rodgers takes money from the GMO potato and sugar industries (J.R. Simplot and American Crystal Sugar), but as far as we know she remains undecided. If you live in Rep. Rodgers’ district, please contact campaigns@organicconsumers.org to arrange a meeting with her office. If you can’t do a meeting, please call her office at 202-225-2006 and ask her to oppose H.R. 1599.

Rep. John Moolenaar (R-Mich.): LIKELY YES. Rep. Moolenaar isn’t yet a DARK Act cosponsor, but he signed onto a letter in support of H.R. 1599. He doesn’t money from Monsanto. It’s worse. His top contributor in the 2014 election was Dow ($62,600), manufacturer of the “possible carcinogen” 2,4-D, which the new generation of herbicide-tolerant crops has been engineered to absorb.

If you live in Rep. Moolenaar’s district, please contact campaigns@organicconsumers.org to arrange a meeting with his office. If you can’t do a meeting, please call his office at (202) 225-3561 and ask him to oppose H.R. 1599.

Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.): LIKELY YES. Rep. Newhouse isn’t yet a DARK Act cosponsor, but he signed onto a letter in support of H.R. 1599. He takes money from Monsanto, as well as Monsanto front-groups like CropLife and the Grocery Manufacturers Association, and GMO industry groups like American Crystal Sugar. Here’s what he stated on their behalf at the June 25 hearing, as to the need for H.R. 1599: “It’s frustrating to me that … some jurisdictions feel compelled to impose duplicative, costly and mandatory burdens on consumers and producers that … add no additional benefit so … this Congress … will likely have to consider legislation to ensure that our farmers, ranchers, growers, producers and families aren’t harmed by these unworkable rules.”

If you live in Rep. Newhouse’s district, please contact campaigns@organicconsumers.org to arrange a meeting with his office. If you can’t do a meeting, please call his office at (202) 225-5816 and ask him to oppose H.R. 1599.

Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.): YES. Rep. Schrader is a DARK Act cosponsor and takes money from Monsanto. Rep. Schrader is also an organic farmer, which is hard to reconcile given his strong support for H.R. 1599.

If you live in Rep. Schrader’s district, please contact campaigns@organicconsumers.org to arrange a meeting with his office. If you can’t do a meeting, please call his office at (202) 225-5711 and ask him to reconsider his position on H.R. 1599.

Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.): LIKELY YES. Rep. Scott isn’t yet a DARK Act cosponsor, but he signed onto a letter in support of H.R. 1599. He takes money from Monsanto, $5,000 in the last election cycle, and, at the hearing on June 25, he demonstrated the support that money can buy. He used Monsanto’s talking points, falsely claiming that we need the DARK Act to prevent every locality in the U.S. from creating its own unique labeling requirements for genetically engineered food, even though the truth is that GMO labeling laws have only been introduced at the state level, and each of these bills are virtually uniform in their standards (all set a 0.9% threshold for labels), which derive from the nearly identical standards of the countries, including our top trading partners, that require labels on GMOs.  

If you live in Rep. Scott’s district, please contact campaigns@organicconsumers.org to arrange a meeting with his office. If you can’t do a meeting, please call his office at (202) 225-6531 and ask him to oppose H.R. 1599.

Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-Penn.): YES. Rep. Thompson is a DARK Act cosponsor, and he’s on the Monsanto payroll, having taken $4,000 in the last election cycle. He didn’t participate in the June 25 hearing, so we don’t have any juicy quotes to get you upset about his support for the DARK Act, but we hope you’ll be inspired to contact him regardless.

If you live in Rep. Thompson’s district, please contact campaigns@organicconsumers.org to arrange a meeting with his office. If you can’t do a meeting, please call his office at (202) 225-5121 and ask him to reconsider his support for H.R. 1599.

Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.): YES. Rep. Whitfield is a DARK Act co-sponsor. He’s also a Monsanto shareholder who takes campaign cash from producers of genetically engineered commodities, including the soy and sugar industries, as well as from companies that sell genetically engineered crops and related pesticides (BASF, Dow).

If you live in Rep. Whitfield’s district, please contact campaigns@organicconsumers.org to arrange a meeting with his office. If you can’t do a meeting, please call his office at (202) 225-3115 and ask him to oppose H.R. 1599.

Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.): LIKELY YES. Rep. Yoho isn’t yet a DARK Act cosponsor, but he signed onto a letter in support of H.R. 1599. He takes money from a number of GMO interests, including Bayer, Land O’ Lakes, Farm Bureau, GMO sugar beet groups, and factory farm groups that raise animals on GMOs. He didn’t participate in the June 25 hearing, so we don’t have quotes to get you riled up, but we hope you’ll be inspired to reach out to him nevertheless.

If you live in Rep. Yoho’s district, please contact campaigns@organicconsumers.org to arrange a meeting with his office. If you can’t do a meeting, please call his office at 202-225-5744 and ask him to reconsider his support for H.R. 1599.

Can you follow up with these committee members?

Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.): UNDECIDED. On June 29, OCA, GMO Free FL and GMO Free USA met with Rep. Bilirakis’ staff at his Wesley Chapel office. We left materials for the Congressman to review, including a copy of Steven Druker’s new book Altered Genes, Twisted Truth. The district director remarked that the DARK Act’s infringement on states’ rights was the most important aspect of the issue for the Rep. Bilirakis. It’s clear that he’s open to hearing more from his constituents, so, if Rep. Bilirakis is your congressman, please help us keep the pressure on by calling his office at (202) 225-5755 to ask him to vote against the DARK Act.

Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.): NO. Rep. Capps isn’t yet a cosponsor of H.R. 913, the Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act, but she has assured her constituents that she is solidly against the DARK Act. She spoke up at the June 18 hearing to say, “I firmly believe that consumers have the right to make informed decisions about the food they eat.”

If you live in Rep. Capps’ district, please call her office at (202) 225-3601 to thank her for speaking up in support of GMO labels at the hearing and ask her to cosponsor H.R. 913, the Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act.

Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.): UNDECIDED. On May 26, over two dozen representatives from OCA, GMO Free FL and March Against Monsanto Tampa held a rally at Rep. Castor’s office. A local paper covered the rally with a news story  and photo.

We believe this makes a difference. If you live in Rep. Castor’s district, please help us keep the pressure on her to vote against H.R 1599, and cosponsor the Genetically Engineered Right to Know Act by calling her office at (202) 225-3376.

Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.): YES. Yes. DARK Act cosponsor and Monsanto campaign cash recipient. On June 29, OCA members met with her staff, but she still needs to hear from her constituents. Please call her office at (202) 225-4531 to ask her to reconsider her support for the DARK Act.

Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.): UNDECIDED. On June 16, OCA members met with Rep. Engel’s staff at his Bronx office to make the case against the DARK Act and explain why consumers need to know if their food has been genetically engineered.

We believe this makes a difference. If you live in Rep. Engel’s district, please help us keep the pressure on Rep. Engel to vote against H.R. 1599 and cosponsor the Genetically Engineered Right to Know Act by calling his office at (202) 225-2464.

Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.): UNDECIDED. Rep. Griffith doesn’t take Monsanto’s money and he hasn’t yet taken a position on the DARK Act. He has a nine-year old son who has a lot of food allergies. He was the first and only member of the Health Subcommittee to inquire into the health risks of GMOs at the hearing, including requesting additional information about allergens after the hearing.

The day after the June 18 hearing, OCA members met with Rep. Griffith’s junior legislative assistant, Christen Harsha, in Christiansburg, Va., to deliver information on GMOs and allergens. We believe this can make a difference. If you live in Rep. Griffith’s district, please send letters asking him to oppose H.R. 1599 to alexis@organicconsumers.org. We will hand-deliver them to his office in D.C. If relevant, please include information about your own family’s struggles with allergies and what you’ve learned about how GMOs and related pesticides contribute to allergies.

Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy, III (D-Mass.): UNDECIDED. On June 9, more than a dozen OCA and March Against Monsanto Boston members held a rally at Rep. Kennedy’s Newton, Mass. office and delivered letters from the Good Seed natural food store to his Attleborro office. A local paper covered the events.

We believe this makes a difference. If you live in Rep. Kennedy’s district, please help us keep the pressure on him by calling his office at 202-225-5931 and urging him to vote against H.R. 1599 and to cosponsor the Genetically Engineered Right to Know Act.

Rep. Ann Kuster (D-N.H.): NO. Rep. Kuster is a sponsor of the Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act and we’ve heard from NH Right to Know GMO that she’s very opposed to the DARK Act.

If you live in Rep. Kuster’s district, please call her office at (202) 225-5206 to thank her for standing up against the DARK Act and supporting the Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act.

Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.): UNDECIDED. Rep. Lance accepts contributions from Eli Lilly, but as far as we know, he’s still undecided. OCA, GMO Free NJ and NJ National Organization of Women members met with Rep. Lance’s staff in his Westfield, N.J. office on June 17. We explained the health concerns that prompt consumers to demand GMO labels. We believe this makes a difference.

If you live in Rep. Lance’s district, please help us keep the pressure on by calling his office at (202) 225-5361 to ask him to vote against H.R. 1499.

Rep. Billy Long (R-Mo.): YES. DARK Act cosponsor and Monsanto campaign cash recipient. On July 2, OCA members met with Rep. Long’s staff at his Springfield office. We believe this makes a difference. If Rep. Long is your congressman, please help us keep the pressure on by calling his office at (202) 225-6536 to ask him to reconsider his support for the DARK Act.

Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.): UNDECIDED. On June 9, OCA members met with Rep. Lujan’s staff in Albuquerque, N.M. The Congressman’s staff reported that Rep. Lujan is generally supportive of GMO labels, but that he will wait until closer to the vote to announce his position on H.R. 1599.

If you live in Rep. Lujan’s district, please call his office at (202) 225-6190 to thank him for supporting our right to know about GMOs and urge him to take a stand against H.R. 1599 and to cosponsor the Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act.

Rep. Doris O. Matsui (D-Calif.): NO. Label GMO members in Rep. Matsui’s district have confirmed that she’ll be voting against the DARK Act.  If you live in Rep. Matsui’s district, please call her office at (202) 225-7163 to thank her for opposing H.R. 1599, and to ask her to cosponsor the Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act.

Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.): NO. Rep. McGovern is a sponsor of the Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act. At the June 25 hearing, Rep. McGovern said, “If a majority of people in this country want there to be GMO labeling so they know what they’re buying … why shouldn’t we give it to them?” He took issue with the claim that the “mandatory route costs consumers all this money” and cited a Washington Post fact-checker story that gave this claim three Pinocchios. He concluded, “It seems to me that the more people resist giving the public what they want, the more the public begins to suspect there’s something wrong.”

If you live in Rep. McGovern’s district, please call his office at (202) 225-6101 to thank him for standing up against the DARK Act and supporting the Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act.

Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.): UNDECIDED. He gets money from food manufacturers and GMO seed and chemical companies (Heinz and Bayer) that support the DARK Act, but as far as we know he remains undecided. On June 29, OCA and GMO Free PA members met with his staff in Pittsburgh. We believe this makes a difference. If you’re a constituent, please help us keep the pressure on by calling his office at (202) 225-2301 to ask him to vote against the DARK Act.

Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.): UNDECIDED. Rep. Pallone, Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member, doesn’t take money from Monsanto and hasn’t yet made up his mind about the DARK Act. In his opening statement during the June 18 hearing, Rep. Pallone cautioned against “preempting state law without good reason.” He said, “If mandatory GE labeling were inherently misleading, for example because it implied that GE food was somehow inferior to ‘normal’ food, that would seem to be a compelling reason to prohibit it.” But, he said he’s “not convinced that the requirement imposed by Vermont would be inherently misleading.”

On June 18, members of the OCA and FWW met with Rep. Pallone’s staff in New Brunswick, but did not get him to commit to a YES or NO vote. If you’re a constituent, please call Rep. Pallone’s office at (202) 225-4671 and ask him to vote NO on H.R. 1599.

Joseph R. Pitts (R-Penn.): LIKELY YES. Rep. Pitts, Health Subcommittee Chairman, isn’t a cosponsor of the DARK Act yet, but it’s clear that he’s a supporter. Little wonder, considering that the Biotechnology Industry Organization, one of Monsanto’s political front groups, was his top contributor in 2014.

On Wednesday, June 24, OCA, GMO Free PA and GMO Free Lancaster members met with Rep. Pitts’ office in Lancaster, Penn., but got no assurance from his staff that he was open to considering rejecting the DARK Act. If you vote in Rep. Pitts’ district, please call him at (202) 225-2411 and ask him to vote NO on H.R. 1599.

Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.): UNDECIDED. Rep. Sarbanes doesn’t take Monsanto’s money and he hasn’t yet taken a position on the DARK Act. Nevertheless, he appeared to deliberately help opponents of H.R. 1599 when he used his five minutes during the June 18 hearing to give one of the witnesses more time to elaborate on how the FDA’s voluntary consultation process isn’t an affirmative statement on safety.

On June 18, a couple of hours after the hearing, OCA members met with Rep. Sarbanes’ staff in his Annapolis, Md. office. We expressed our thanks for his participation in the hearing and urged his staff to pass on information we brought on the connection between GMOs, glyphosate and other GMO-related pesticides, and various health problems.

We believe this can make a difference. If Rep. Sarbanes is your representative, please call his office at (202) 225-4016 to ask him to vote against H.R. 1599.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.): NO. On May 28, OCA, IL Right to Know GMO and March Against Monsanto Chicago members held a rally at Rep. Schakowsky’s office to urge her to take a stand against the DARK Act. The rally was turned into a celebration when staff informed them that the Congresswoman would vote no.

If you live in Rep. Schakowsky’s district, please call her office at (202) 225-2111 to thank her for opposing H.R. 1599 and to ask her to cosponsor the Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act.

Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.): YES. Rep. Shimkus is a DARK Act cosponsor and a recipient of Monsanto’s campaign cash. During the June 18 hearing, Rep. Shimkus had witness John Reifsteck, Chairman of the Board and President of GROWMARK, Inc., help him assert that biotechnology is the best way to feed the world’s growing population and adapt to climate change.

On June 15, members of the OCA, Illinois Right to Know GMO and March Against Monsanto met with Rep. Shimkus’s staff in Danville, but he remains against us. If you’re a constituent, please call his office at (202) 225-5271 to urge him to reconsider his position on H.R. 1599.

Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.): NO. Rep. Welch is a cosponsor of H.R. 913, the Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act. Rep. Welch made an important point about H.R. 1599 during the June 18 hearing, when he said, “I agree with my colleagues that a national standard would be good, but there is no national standard in this bill. It’s voluntary labeling which means there will be no labeling whatsoever.”

If you live in Rep. Welch’s district, please call his office at (202) 225-4115 to thank him for supporting Vermont’s right to label GMOs and for opposing H.R. 1499.

Alexis Baden-Mayer is political director for the Organic Consumers Association.

 

 

 

 

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