As the U.S. Senate votes on the 2012 Farm Bill, a local group has sent Senator Dick Durbin a letter written on a table-cloth urging the Democratic Illinois Senator to support a law that would permit Illinois to require food manufacturers to specially label products that contain Genetically Modified Organizms (GMOs).
The organization, Evanston GMO Watch (EGMOW) (used the table cloth at their booth at last weekend Custer's Last Stand Festival. The mission of the booth was to inform visitors about GMOs and their impact on bee polulation in Illinois. A majority of the booth attendants signed the letter to Durbin. It has been sent to Durbin's office.
"We are not asking the state to ban GMOs," said EGMOW co-founder, June Shellene, "we simply believe that people are entitled to know what is in their foods so they can make informed decisions about what they are eating and how they are effecting the environment".
"They get a lot of stuff in Washington," said Eric Lieberman, the other co-founder of EGMOW. "But, they should notice a table cloth full of signatures."
In addition to the table-cloth signing, EGMOW distrubuted a pamphlet telling the story of Apple River, Illinois beekeeper Terrance Ingram. The pamphlet described how he began losing bees in 1996 when the corn and soy bean fields surrounding his home began to be sprayed with the Monsanto herbicide "Roundup". "They've told me that if I want to raise bees I have to move to Wisconsin where they don't have as much Roundup and GMO corn," Ingram told Ms. Shellene. "I have lived here since 1941. I am not going to move."
The booth gave children a bee quiz and winners received a jar of Mr. Ingram's honey.
EGMOW also took photos of visiting children sticking their heads through a cutout in an oversize bee. A slide show of the photos is posted with this blog.
EGMOW is planning a float in the Evanston Fourth of July Parade and hope to do a presentation at whole foods while it celebrates pollinators over the next few weeks.
Reproduced below is the content of the letter sent by EGMOW to Sen Durbin:
Dear Senator Durbin:
We know you will have been fully briefed by staff before you are called on to vote this week on the GMO labeling Amendment to the 2012 Farm Bill. If made law, states would be able to require clear labeling of any food or beverage containing genetically engineered ingredients.
We, along with the many people that stopped at our booth at the Custer’s Last Stand Festival in Evanston June 16&17 and signed the “table-top” letter to you shown above and on our website, strongly believe that the several states should be entitled to protect the health and welfare of its citizenry and its agricultural communities.
Allowing states to mandate labeling is a simple way to allow consumers to make an informed choice regarding what they and their children eat. We, and these citizens of Evanston, urge you to support the amendment.
EVANSTON GMO WATCH
Lieberman said EGMOW is planning a float in the Evanston Fourth of July Parade and hope to do a presentation at whole foods while it celebrates pollinators over the next few weeks.