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GMO Labeling Activists Deliver ‘April Fools’ Jester Hats to US Senators

Message from Activists: Don’t Make Fools of Voters Who Want GMO Foods Labeled

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 31, 2016

Contact: Organic Consumers Association: Alexis Baden-Mayer, alexis@organicconsumers.org, 202-744-0853; Katherine Paul, katherine@organicconsumers.org, 207-653-3090

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In observance of April Fools Day, activists with the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) will on April 1, deliver jester hats to several key U.S. Senators. The activists will deliver the hats along with thanking the Senators for their March 16 votes against the DARK Act (S.2609), the bill introduced by Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) that would Deny Americans the Right to Know about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) used to produce our food.

The message of thanks will accompany a stern warning: The nine out of 10 voters who support GMO labels don’t want to be made fools of.

“Any Senator who flips his or her vote to support any bill that blocks Vermont’s GMO labeling law (Act 120) from taking effect on July 1, might as well wear a jester’s hat that says, ‘April Fools! Monsanto Rules!’” said Alexis Baden-Mayer, OCA’s political director. “We want these Senators to stay strong and maintain the victory for consumer rights that was achieved on March 16, when these Senators voted against the DARK Act.”

The Senate delivery of the “April Fools! Monsanto Rules!” jester hats was prompted by reports that Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) is working with Sen. Roberts on an alternative version of the DARK Act that would still take away states’ rights to label GMOs, but would attract more Democratic votes by promising some type of national GMO labeling scheme, one possibly involving QR barcodes, toll-free phone numbers or some other alternative to on-package labels.

“I’d love to see GMO labels nationwide, but I don’t want to be made a fool of,” said Kryssi Jones of No GMOs 4 Michigan. “It’s hard to trust Sen. Stabenow because she takes money from Monsanto and Dow Chemical.” Sen. Stabenow knows that whatever gets passed in the Senate is going to be weakened when it is reconciled with the House version of the DARK Act (H.R. 1599) in the conference committee. I grew up surrounded by Monsanto’s Roundup Ready GMOs and now I have breast cancer. I know how dangerous GMOs are to our health, and how important it is that we know what we’re eating.”  

In addition to Sen. Stabenow, recipients of the jester hats will include other Senators who voted against the DARK Act, but whose support for Vermont’s right to enforce its GMO labeling law isn’t necessarily assured: Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Sen. Bob Casey (D-Penn.), Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.),  Sen. Rand Paul (R-N.Y.), Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

On March 16, Democrats in the U.S. Senate blocked a mostly Republican-led effort to bar states from requiring labels for foods made with GMOs. On a 48-49 vote, the bill, which would have instead set up a federal, voluntary GMO labeling system, fell well short of the required 60 votes. By flipping his vote at the last minute, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) ensured that the Senate could revisit S. 2609 to consider amendments. It’s expected that the bill will come up again soon after Congress reconvenes on April 4.

In July 2015, the Republican-controlled U.S. House approved its version of the bill, H.R. 1599, which also would have preempted state GMO labeling laws.

Organizational Bio: The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is an online and grassroots non-profit 501(c)3 public interest organization advocating on behalf of more than one million consumers for health, justice, and sustainability. The Organic Consumers Fund is a 501(c)4 allied organization of the Organic Consumers Association, focused on grassroots lobbying and legislative action.