Policy

Protesters Shower Dollar Bills on Senate

Demostration centers on food-labeling bill

GMO activists also dropped money in the Hart Senate Office Building in October. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Dollar bills rained onto the Senate floor Wednesday as protesters called on senators to reject a bill relating to labeling products with genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

Alexis Baden-Mayer, political director of the Organic Consumers Association, and Adam Eidinger, a local activist and founder of "Occupy Monsanto," dropped more than $2,000 worth of dollar bills onto the floor around 4 p.m. to raise attention about large corporations' influence on the legislation.

"The Senate is being bribed," they shouted. "This is not what democracy looks like."

The pair, along with a third protester, were promptly escorted out of the Senate chamber by security.

“When Congress moves to crush the will of nine out of 10 Americans because they need companies like Monsanto to fund their campaigns, you know our democracy is in real trouble," Bayden-Mayer said in a statement released before the incident. "The corporate lobbyists are totally corrupt."

Protesters Shower Dollar Bills on Senate (Video)

The demonstration occurred ahead of a Senate procedural vote on whether to move forward on a bill that would mandate companies disclose GMOs in their products, and allow companies to choose how to disclose that information. Despite the protest, the Senate voted to move forward with the bill.  

[ Congress Wrestles With Laws on GMO Labeling ]  

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., announced the agreement in late June.  

“This bipartisan bill is a win for consumers and families,” Stabenow said in a statement announcing the agreement. “For the first time ever, consumers will have a national, mandatory label for food products that contain genetically modified ingredients."  

[ American Farm Bureau Backs Voluntary GMO Labeling ]  

Opponents to the bill argue it has several loopholes, including an insufficient definition of GMO, ineffective labeling standards, and a lack of proper enforcement techniques.  

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., is one of the chief opponents of the bill. At a Wednesday press conference, he called the bill "inherently flawed," and argued it would preempt a Vermont GMO labeling law that recently took effect.  

Sanders said he would do everything he could to stop it from moving forward. Several other Democrats joined Sanders in opposing the bill, including Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont and Jon Tester of Montana.

Contact Bowman at  bridgetbowman@rollcall.com  and follow her on Twitter at @bridgetbhc .

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