GRASSROOTS ACTION: US Senate Vote Tomorrow on DARK Act: Call Senators today!

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Posted by Laura Hagen, HWFC Member-Owner.

GRASSROOTS ACTION IS POWERFUL! is a blog dedicated to American independently-owned, Member-Owned & operated, community food co-ops, their Member-Owners and families.

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UPDATE: THURSDAY, JULY 7, 2016 9:10 am

NYS Senator Gillibrand’s office in D.C. told me this morning that the Senator voted “NO” against the cloture vote yesterday. (This is, she voted against cutting off debate and forcing a vote.)

NYS Senator’s Schumer’s office in D.C. told me this morning that the Senator voted “NO” (That is, he voted against cutting off debate and forcing a vote.)

UPDATE: WEDNESDAY, JULY 6, 2016 10:30PM

DARK ACT PASSES US SENATE WEDNESDAY WITH CLOTURE* VOTE

A Center for Food Safety Press Release dated today, states:

WASHINGTON— Today the Senate voted to deny one-third of Americans the right to know what is in in the food products they purchase. In a cloture vote of 65-32 the discriminatory, highly-flawed “compromise” GMO labeling bill offered by Senators Stabenow and Roberts, also known as the Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act, passed through the Senate. This “compromise” bill allows producers to use QR codes and “smart labels” instead of clear, on-package labeling of food products that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The poorly drafted bill exempts major portions of current and future GMO foods from labeling and is discriminatory against low-income, rural, minorities and elderly populations. The bill as written is also a gross violation of the sovereignty of numerous states, as it preempts the genetically engineered food labeling laws in Vermont, Connecticut, Maine and Alaska…

The High Plains /Midwest AG Journal article Senate Passes GMO Cloture Vote, dated Wednesday, July 6, 2016 at 5:38 pm stated: “Senate will vote on final passage as early as July 7.

Both NYS Senators’ – Schumer and Gillibrand – websites are silent as to how they voted on the Dark Act cloture vote. Please post below, if you have an update.

See the Senate Democrat and Republican Conference websites for information about the Cloture vote and the final vote, possibly tomorrow, Thursday, July 7, 2016.

*What’s a “cloture vote?” “Cloture is a procedure used occasionally in the U.S. Senate to break a filibuster. Cloture, or Rule 22, is the only formal procedure in Senate parliamentary rules, in fact, that can force an end to the stalling tactic. It allows the Senate to limit consideration of a pending matter to 30 additional hours of debate.” See http://uspolitics.about.com/od/glossary/a/Cloture-Definition.htm .

 

UPDATE: Wednesday, July 6, 2016 9:00PM: No results as to the US Senate Vote yet. PLEASE CALL NY SENATOR SCHUMER’S AND SENATOR GILLIBRAND’S OFFICES TOMORROW AND TELL THEM TO VOTE “NO” AND TELL THEM WHY YOUR FAMILY DOES NOT WANT NOR SUPPORT THE ‘DARK ACT.’

Senator Schumer (202) 224-6542

Senator Gillibrand (202) 224-4451

In the meantime, read this June 29, 2016 article at HuffPo by Carey Gillam, Research Director for U.S. Right to Know, a non-profit consumer education group, At ‘Crucial Moment’ For GMO Labeling, Organic Industry Finds Itself Divided.

Read Carey Gillam’s June 27, 2016 article at U.S. Right to Know, For GMO Labeling Advocates, It Doesn’t Get Much Darker Than This.

And see this Wednesday, July 6, 2016 NY Times editorial, A Flawed Approach to Labeling Genetically Modified Food.

Finally, we were all let to believe that GMO foods were necessary because they would increase food yields. A national report has put that myth to bed.

U.S. Right To Know informs us: “A May 2016 report by the National Academy of Sciences found no evidence that GMO crops had changed the rate of increase in yields, and no clear benefits for small, impoverished farms in developing countries.”

 

UPDATE: Tuesday, July 5, 2016 at 6:00PM: An advocate (thanks JS) from HWFC just let our list know she has spoken with the Environmental Working Group. “THEY SAY SCHUMER IS POSSIBLY GOING TO VOTE FOR THE BILL… (the DARK Act)…”

Please call Senator Schumer’s Office and tell him to vote “no.” Tell him why. Tell him the Organic Trade Association, which is supporting this bill, does NOT speak for you and your family.

Flood Senator Schumer’s Office with calls. We need large numbers from the Albany area calling his D.C. office.

Does anyone have a newer update from Senator Gillibrand’s office?

I was told it is more effective to call their D.C. offices. Here are the numbers:

Senator Schumer (202) 224-6542 (9-6PM and you CANNOT leave a message)

Senator Gillibrand (202) 224-4451

Please post any updates, below.

Here is the text of the bill (thanks MR, another HWFC advocate). It just made it out of committee (Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry) and doesn’t have an S number yet. History of bill: (S. 2609 via amendment #3450 to S. 764)

http://www.agriculture.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Ag%20biotech%20compromise%20proposal.pdf

Folks, please read the text of this bill …and make your Senate phone calls today and tomorrow morning. Call friends & family around the US and have THEM call THEIR Senators today and tomorrow morning to vote “no” to the Dark Act.

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The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) and its International Director, Ronnie Cummins, issued this statement in an email sent out July 3rd:

On Wednesday, July 6, the U.S. Senate will hold a vote on a bill that could undermine everything that’s been accomplished so far on the GMO labeling front.

If the Roberts-Stabenow DARK Act passes next week, Vermont’s GMO labeling bill, enacted yesterday, will be overturned. Consumers will never get clear labels on GMO foods. The right of states to pass their own food safety and labeling laws will be severely undermined.

In fact, even Vermont’s seed labeling law, in existence for the past 12 years, will be wiped out of existence by this grossly offensive piece of legislation.

So much for states being the “laboratories of democracy.” What rights will corporations convince our federal lawmakers to take away next?

The bill proposed by Sens. Pat Roberts and Debbie Stabenow is an anti-consumer, pro-Monsanto masterpiece, bought and paid for by some of the greediest, most deceptive corporations in America…

YOUR ACTION STEPS:

  1. Please read my July 2nd post to get updated, here.
  2. It is URGENT that you contact your US Senators TODAY at 888-897-0174  (or Senator Schumer (202) 224-6542; Senator Gillibrand (202) 224-4451), and let them know you do not support the Roberts-Stabenow Senate Bill, aka the DARK ACT. In the past, NY Senators Gillibrand and Schumer both voted “no.” Call them anyway because I did not get a firm answer today from either Senator’s office that they would be voting “no” tomorrow.
    1. See how the rest of the US Senate voted on a “test run” of the vote, here;
  3. Go to your pantry & ‘fridge. Cross-check the brand names of the organic food you buy with this list of members of the Organic Trade Association (OTA);
    1. Email and/or FB some of these “organic” companies today (OTA list of members here);
    2. Tell them to publicly drop support of this bill; you want this in writing;
    3. Tell them you expect to see an announcement on their website and FB page, showing they have removed support for this bill.

I called Senators Schumer and Gillibrand’s offices today. Senator Gillibrand’s D.C. office told me they cannot confirm that she will vote “no” against the DARK Act, but that she did vote against it in the past.

Senator Schumer’s D.C. office line was busy; I am still trying to get through.(UPDATE 7/5/16, 3:30PM: the Senator’s D.C. office stated the Senator does oppose the DARK ACT and has voted against it in the past; however, the staffer does not know how the Senator will vote tomorrow until after he votes.) I spoke to the regional office in Albany and was told the Senator did vote against the DARK Act in the past; the staffer could not tell me the “Senator’s thinking as of this moment.” He urged me to call the D.C. office to be sure my voice is heard and that I am included in the tally of phone calls against the DARK Act.

Let me state this very loudly and very clearly: the Organic Trade Association (OTA) and all of its association members have joined with Monsanto in support of this bill.

This “Organic Industry” trade & lobbying organization, the Organic Trade Association, is claiming to speak for millions of American who buy their members’ “organic” food products. That includes you.

This bill is being voted on in the US Senate tomorrow, July 6th.

Do not allow this organic, corporate “front group,” the OTA, to speak for you. Call your US Senators today on behalf of your family and ask that they vote “no.” Tell them why.

Tell members of the Organic Trade Association – in writing – that your family will stop buying their “organic” foods if they do not immediately drop support for this bill – in writing – which supports GMOs and Monsanto.

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Here is the letter which I emailed today to Melissa Hughes, Chair of the Organic Trade Association and Organic Valley representative:

Urgent Response Needed: OV and OTA Support of the Roberts-Stabenow Bill

July 5, 2016

Dear Ms. Hughes, Chair, Organic Trade Association and Representative of Organic Valley:

I have been a loyal customer of Organic Valley Co-operative milk products for years. Each month I purchase at least 1 gallon of OV whole, grassfed milk to make yogurt and we purchase OV butter, as well.

I am shocked that Organic Valley, represented by you as the Chair of the Organic Trade Association (OTA,) is supporting the Roberts-Stabenow Senate bill – renamed “The DARK Act” (Deny Americans the Right to Know about GMOs).

This bill goes against the very things we consumers want: transparency in labeling of GMOs; full disclosure by food corporations of the presence of GMOs; the right to protect our families from the harm of GMOs; and protection of the term “organic” in food labeling.

Please tell me:

1. Why is Organic Valley supporting this bill?
2. Why are you, as chair of the OTA, guiding the hundreds of OTA member corporations into supporting this bill?
3. What will it take for you to realize that 90% of American consumers DO NOT WANT GMOs in their food and WANT IT CLEARLY LABELED, that a food corporation is using GMOs? Would a national boycott of Organic Valley products be a loud and clear message?
4. Will you, as both Chair of the OTA and as a representative of Organic Valley, publicly and in writing on your websites and Facebook pages, withdraw your support of the Roberts-Stabenow bill (“the DARK Act”) immediately?
5. Please provide me with a list (name, address, phone, website, email) of ALL the farmers who provide milk/dairy to the Organic Valley Co-operative, whose farms are located in New York State & Vermont. I plan to contact each NYS & VT Organic Valley farm family and let them know there is strong consumer action AGAINST the “organic” corporations which support the Roberts-Stabenow Senate bill and that consumers, nation-wide, are poised to boycott any “organic” corporations which, by virtue of being a member of the Organic Trade Association (OTA), support the Roberts-Stabenow bill.

Depending upon your reply, my family will either continue to buy Organic Valley milk and butter. …or we will end our support of your corporation and buy our organic milk and butter elsewhere. We will go out of our way to NOT purchase Organic Valley products.

In addition – depending upon your written answer to me – our family will begin a campaign of contacting every member of the OTA whose food has a place in our ‘fridge and pantry, and inform them that we will no longer be purchasing their “organic” food products.

Please do not ask me to call you back; I would much prefer your answer in writing. There are many other Organic Valley customers who will want to know your answers, as well.

Sincerely,

Laura Hagen

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2 thoughts on “GRASSROOTS ACTION: US Senate Vote Tomorrow on DARK Act: Call Senators today!

  1. Leslie

    This is the reply I got:

    Response Via Email(Lorna) – 07/05/2016 09:49 AM
    Hi Leslie – Thank you for reaching out to us with your concerns.
    We’re disappointed that recent articles are making it seem like we’re against GMO labeling, which is the opposite of the truth. Our cooperative has been a leader against the use of GMOs since our inception in 1988 and we will continue to aggressively support the labeling of GMOs. https://www.organicvalley.coop/why-organic-valley/organic-always-non-gmo/ (https://www.organicvalley.coop/why-organic-valley/organic-always-non-gmo/)
    The Senate will soon be voting on a compromise proposal that has been put together by two Senators with opposing views on GMO labeling. Being a compromise, neither side will get everything they want – neither the full-disclosure side, and make no mistake that is Organic Valley, nor the no-disclosure side, which includes Monsanto. We are encouraged that the bill requires mandatory disclosure of GMOs in many food products, however, we are disappointed that this bill doesn’t go far enough in the labeling requirements. Notably, by allowing the QR code or an 800-number as methods for disclosure, companies can duck from meaningful labeling of GMOs. Few people use the QR codes or even know what they are, and the 800-number wouldn’t necessarily need to state anything about GMOs. While we
    understand that the proposal isn’t perfect, at the end of the day, if the proposal becomes law, we will have mandatory, national labeling of GMOs. And, at the same time, consumers can continue to push companies who are using the QR code or the 800-number, to instead use real words to label GMOs in their products.
    We are transparent about the foods we produce. Organic Valley makes only organic products and organic is always non-GMO.
    We appreciate your concern and ask you to please take a moment to consider the facts. Organic Valley has fought against GMOs and fought for GMO labeling since day one. We’ve never wavered and never altered our position. Just because we are not out screaming and name calling because we didn’t get everything we want in the current proposal, doesn’t mean we’ve lost our minds and our souls and our values. We’re on this. Just organic food here: no GMOs, no crooked or scandalous deals, no siding with or selling out to Monsanto or anyone else in the fight for GMO labeling.
    Our focus remains on supporting clear GMO labeling efforts, rather than trying to cause division within the organic industry. Thank you again for contacting us and giving us the opportunity to address this important topic.
    Kind Regards,
    Lorna
    Consumer Relations
    Organic Valley/CROPP Cooperative
    1-888-444-6455 x3701
    La Farge, WI 54639

    Like

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