Concord, NH – Mobile billboards featuring the faces of Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and executives from the corporate-owned, organic companies, Stonyfield, and Whole Foods have been parked across the street from Ayotte’s Campaign Headquarters in Concord and Stonyfield Yogurt company headquarters in Londonderry, New Hampshire for the past several days. The action is part of a last ditch effort by farmers, environmentalists and consumer groups to convince key U.S. Senators to oppose the GMO labeling deal that Senators Stabenow and Roberts crafted behind closed doors with top executives from Monsanto, Whole Foods, Stonyfield, Smucker’s and a handful Organic Trade Association (OTA) lobbyists.
In March, Whole Foods co-CEO Walter Robb, Stonyfield Farms Chairman Gary Hirshberg, Organic Valley CEO George Siemon and Laura Batcha, head of the Organic Trade Association held a fundraiser for Stabenow that drew significant criticism. Only months later, these same executives are supporting behind a backroom deal that betrays everything that the grassroots movement of millions of activists across the country have built in the past five years.
“In reality, this bill was written and approved by Monsanto and America’s most corrupt food companies in a last ditch effort to avoid common sense, mandatory labeling of GMOs, while keeping the doors wide open for a flood of campaign cash from companies such as Monsanto, DuPont, Pepsi, General Mills, Stonyfield, Smucker’s, Organic Valley and Whole Foods’ executives to their campaign coffers,” said Dave Murphy, Executive Director of Food Democracy Now!.
Considered a corrupt bargain by leading grassroots organizations in the food movement, including the Center for Food Safety, the Organic Consumers Association, Consumers Union and Food Democracy Now, the deal now in front of the Senate would not only preempt landmark legislation in Vermont which went into effect on July 1st, but initial readings of the bill language found that ALL provisions are optional and would exclude 85% of current GMO’s on the market.
Last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) agreed with leading movement experts, explaining the deep flaws in the Senate bill’s language even further in a brief policy memo issued to clarify the obviously confusion created by this hastily crafted bill.
Even The Des Moines Register reported, “the FDA expressed concern that the bill’s use of the words “that contains genetic material” would mean that oil made from genetically engineered soybeans, and starches and purified proteins, would not require a GMO label”.
According to another report in the Hill, the FDA now claims the bill is so poorly written that “the phrase “contains genetic material” likely means that many foods from genetically engineered sources, such as oil made from GE soy, would not have any genetic material in it and therefore not be covered by the legislation.”
“It’s hard to imagine that two of the leading Senators on the agricultural committee, responsible for crafting legislation that governs our nation’s food policy, and leading food companies could get these basic details so wrong,” said Murphy.
“This deal would be laughable if it wasn’t so corrupt and is just another sign of how American’s rights are getting sold out by their Senators behind the scenes in DC. The American people are sick and tired of these corrupt bargains with corporate lobbyists, which is why the American public is turning on the establishment with increasing ferocity,” continued Murphy, noting the hostile political climate that has enveloped both parties.
Food Democracy Now!’s latest New Hampshire ads highlights the amount of campaign money Ayotte has accepted from Monsanto. Ayotte, running in a tough re-election against Governor Maggie Hassan (D-NH), has taken more than $10,000 from the St. Louis-based biotech seed and chemical giant despite overwhelming support in New Hampshire for genetically modified organisms (GMO) labeling.
At the same time, Food Democracy Now! is making sure that those corporate controlled organic company executives and their lobbyists at the Organic Trade Association (OTA) responsible for this corrupt bargain are feeling the heat.
Yesterday, a mobile billboard was parked out front of Stonyfield Yogurt’s headquarters in Londonderry New Hampshire, making sure that employees and state residents were informed of how their interests were actually being represented in Washington DC.
This latest series of billboards have been traveling around New Hampshire this week and during 4th of July parades, stopping in Manchester, Portsmouth, Londonderry and Nashua. The campaign is sponsored and paid for by Food Democracy Now!, a grassroots community of more than 650,000 farmers and citizens dedicated to building a sustainable food system that protects the natural environment, sustains farmers and nourishes families.
In a statewide survey conducted in 2013, 90% of people polled in New Hampshire believed that they have the right to know if their food contains GMO’s. This mirrors national polls that consistently find 90% of Americans support on package labeling of GMO food.
Food Democracy Now! is urging the public to contact their Senators now to tell them that “Monsanto, Dupont, Stonyfield, Smucker’s, and Whole Foods don’t represent the American people on GMO labeling. This is about people’s rights, not protecting corporate profits.” You can learn more about the campaign here.
Originally Published: FoodDemocracyNow!