GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOOD; Congressional Record Vol. 162, No. 40
(Senate - March 14, 2016)

Text available as:

Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.

[Pages S1469-S1473]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                       GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOOD

  Mr. MERKLEY. Mr. President, I rise to address the motion that is on 
the floor right now, which is a motion to adopt an amendment that is 
essentially a new version of the Monsanto DARK Act. Now, DARK is an 
acronym that stands for ``Denying Americans the Right to Know.'' This 
is, by the way, an amendment that has not been seen in any committee in 
the Senate ever.
  We heard a lot of discussion about how we were going to have a 
process in this Chamber where things would be in the ordinary fashion--
go through the committee so it could be digested and analyzed--but 
instead this amendment is to an underlying bill that has been ping-
ponging back and forth between the House and Senate. This legislation 
has never been heard in committee. It was crafted over the last few 
hours. Here we are with a fundamental issue of citizens' right to know, 
and the majority leader of this Chamber has decided to bypass any 
ordinary consideration to jam this through on behalf of Monsanto.
  What is at stake here? What is citizens' right to know about? It is 
about genetically modified or genetically engineered ingredients that 
are in their food. Across the country 90 percent of Americans want to 
have some indication of what is in their food and whether there are GE 
ingredients. They feel this is relevant to what they would like to buy. 
Even if they don't personally look it up when they buy a product, they 
feel citizens should have a right to know. I rounded it off and said 90 
percent, but it is actually 89 percent. The survey took place last 
fall. I believe it took place in November of 2015. This fundamental 
notion about the right to know what is in your food transcends every 
ideology in our country.
  The Presidential primary season is going on right now, and we are 
seeing a huge range of ideologies from the left to the right on 
display, but when we talk to citizens about this right to know, it 
doesn't matter if they are Democrats, Independents, Republicans, 
rightwing Republicans or leftwing Democrats, they all come out 
essentially the same. Let's break it down by each party. Democrats are 
at 9 to 1, or 92 percent; Republicans are at 84 percent, which rounds 
out to about 8\1/2\ Republicans to 1 Republican. It is a huge ratio. 
Independents are 9 to 1, or 89 percent. When asked if they feel 
strongly about this, they say, yes, they do feel strongly about this. 
That just goes to the fundamental notion that here in America citizens 
believe they have the right to make up their own minds and not have the 
overreach of the Federal Government telling them what to believe or the 
government saying: You can't have the information you want in order to 
make your decision as a consumer. Citizens resent that. Citizens get 
angry about that. Yet right now the majority party in this Chamber is 
trying to push through just such a repression of a citizen's right to 
  This has been triggered by a law in Vermont. Citizens in Vermont 
voted and decided they want to know if their food has GE, genetically 
engineered, ingredients, and that law goes into effect on July 1 of 
this year. Our big food industry--Monsanto and friends--said: No, we 
can't let the citizens of Vermont have the information they want. We 
must pass a Federal law to stop them. By the way, we need to stop every 
other State in the United States of America and every other subdivision 
of any State in the United States of America from providing this 
information, which 9 out of 10 Americans want to have listed on their 
  We are all acquainted with labels on food. That is not something new. 
Some citizens look at it to determine how many calories are in the 
food. Others look at what vitamins may be in the food or if it meets 
the daily recommended dose of vitamins. Some go to see if it has a form 
of cornstarch, corn sugar, or high fructose corn syrup that maybe they 
like or don't like.
  We also have labeling laws about other things consumers care about on 
their food. If you sell fish in a grocery store in America, you have to 
tell the consumer whether that fish has been caught in the wild or 
whether it has been raised on a farm. Why? Because citizens wanted that 
information. They considered that relevant to their decision about 
their purchase of foods for themselves and their families.
  Let's consider the fact that here in America if you put juice in a 
store, you have to say whether it is made from concentrate or whether 
it is fresh. Why? Because consumers thought that was relevant to how 
they would like to exercise their judgment. Well, 9 out of 10 Americans 
say they want the information on whether there are GE ingredients, but 
now we have this bill on the floor--this Monsanto DARK Act addition 
2.0--that says, no, we are going to

[[Page S1470]]

take away that power from every State in the country, not just Vermont, 
not just my home State of Oregon but every State. We are going to take 
it away from any subdivision of those States. We are going to black out 
that information so consumers can't have it.
  Here is the question we face: Are we going to hold a vote this week 
in this Chamber, as scheduled by the majority leader for Wednesday, to 
shut down debate on this topic? The majority leader didn't allow debate 
today because he just introduced the bill tonight and he just set the 
schedule for tomorrow. We are not going to have the debate until 2:15 
p.m. tomorrow, and he said we are going to vote on Wednesday morning on 
this critical issue affecting citizens' right to know. So on behalf of 
Monsanto and friends, he wants to make sure there are only a few hours 
of debate and that the citizens of our country don't even know this 
dirty deed is being done in this Chamber. That is why I am speaking 
right now, because it is important for the citizens to know this is 
being rammed through right now at a time when it is most likely not 
going to gain public attention.
  Why is that? Why did the majority leader do this on a Monday night 
right before the five big primaries that occur tomorrow? Because the 
news media is very busy covering those five big primaries. Who is going 
to win the Republican primary in Florida that will affect, one way or 
another, whether a Member in this Chamber stays in the race? Who will 
win the Republican primary in Ohio? That is possibly going to affect 
whether the frontrunner gets a majority by the time the convention 
comes up. Who is going to win the Democratic primary in Illinois? Who 
is going to win the Democratic primary in Ohio? That will have a big 
impact on the rhythm of that. So the media is very consumed and very 
busy, and that is why here, on the eve of this major Tuesday primary, 
this bill has been put on the floor. Americans have no idea it is 
happening. They can ram this thing through with no notice to the 
American people because, again, this bill was never considered in 
committee. This is a whole new creature--this Monsanto DARK Act 2.0.
  What specifically does it do and how has it morphed? Well, this is 
very interesting. This act says States are banned from providing 
information that 9 out of 10 of their citizens want. It says 
subdivisions are banned from providing information that 9 out of 10 of 
their citizens want, and then it says there will be a voluntary 
program, and if, after a series of years, citizens can get information 
based on consumer inquiries, then this ban will continue forever. If 
they can't get the information on 70 percent of the major foods that 
are being sold, then all that is required is a response to consumer 
inquiries. In other words, no labeling requirement, no simple fashion 
for a consumer to find out what is in their food. If we put a ban on 
States from providing easy-to-use consumer information about GM or GE 
ingredients, then there must be a national consumer easy-to-use 
indication on the label.
  The argument is put forward--and I share it--that 50 different State 
standards would be confusing and expensive and almost impossible to 
implement. One warehouse serves multiple States and so on and so forth. 
Having a different label in every State makes no sense. OK. I take that 
point. But if we are going to ban the States from providing the 
information consumers want on the argument that there should be one 
national standard for simplicity, then there must be a consumer-
friendly national standard, and there is no such standard in this 
Monsanto DARK Act 2.0 placed on the floor tonight.
  There is an interesting twist here because they have proposed some 
ideas that are different from putting consumer-friendly information on 
the label. The first of those ideas is a 1-800 number. It works like 
this. Let's say, like my daughter, you are interested in high fructose 
corn syrup.
  I am going to use this book here as a visual aid, and I ask unanimous 
consent to do so.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. MERKLEY. I thank the Chair.
  Imagine these are products that are in the grocery store. So I, the 
consumer, am going down the aisle, and I say: I want to know whether 
these contain high fructose corn syrup. Well, I turn it over and look 
at the ingredients, and I see that one does. Looking at this one: No, 
this one doesn't. Let me check the third. It is right here. I have the 
answer. I have checked three products in 5 seconds. That is consumer 
friendly. But let's say we have to call the 1-800 number to find out.
  I ask unanimous consent to use my cell phone as a visual aid.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. MERKLEY. So now I have to pull my cell phone out of my pocket, 
and I have to find this number that is probably too small for me to 
read. I have to turn on my phone and hope there is a cell connection in 
the store, which there may or may not be. I dial it up. Oh, I am 
talking to somebody in the Philippines, and they have no idea what I am 
asking about. Oh, I am talking to some call center somewhere else, and 
they have all kinds of information, but they are not sure exactly what 
my question is about GE ingredients. And maybe I have to wait 15 
minutes while I am on hold. We have all had that experience. Every one 
of us has had the experience of not just waiting 15 minutes; we call a 
consumer help line or maybe a 1-800 number and maybe it is half an 
hour. They give you a little message: We are sorry, we have a high call 
volume and we just can't get to you yet, but we will get back to you in 
maybe 30 or 40 minutes. I am standing here in the aisle. I want to 
compare these three products. I have to call three different 800 
numbers. I ask, can anyone on this floor stand up and say this is a 
consumer-friendly way to answer the fundamental question as to whether 
there is a GE or GM--genetically engineered or genetically modified--
ingredient? No. This is absurd. This is a sham. That is why it is sham 
No. 1.
  But there is not just one sham in this bill; there are more. The 
second sham is a computer code. So picture this: Instead of being able 
to pick up a product and say ``I want to see if this has peanuts in it; 
I am allergic to peanuts,'' I can check my second product. Oh, here it 
is. I check the third product. No, no peanuts. I am allergic to 
peanuts. In 5 seconds, I have checked three products. That is consumer 
  But now this second sham is that I have to have a smartphone with me. 
I have to take a picture of this code called a quick response code, and 
that will take me to a Web site, and maybe I will find out the 
information in the format presented by the company itself, which will 
probably be completely incomprehensible and indigestible. All I wanted 
to know was whether there is a GM ingredient. But now I have to take a 
picture. I have to go to a Web site. I have to negotiate the 
information on the Web site. All I needed was a little symbol right 
here. It doesn't matter what the symbol is. It could be ``GM.'' It 
could be ``GE.'' It could be a ``t'' for transgenic. That is what 
Brazil uses. It could be a happy face. Just anything so that consumers 
knew what that symbol stood for. That would allow them to check it very 
quickly and very easily.
  A QR code is even more diabolical because when you use your phone to 
take a picture of this and go to that Web site, they track some of your 
information. You have to give up your privacy. I have to give up my 
privacy to find out if there is a GE ingredient in the food I am 
eating? No. No way. No how. Just wrong. An invasion, an overreach of 
the Federal Government asking me to give up my privacy by having to 
take a picture of this.
  Envision now whether this is really practical in any way. Not only 
might it take half an hour to go through those three different QR codes 
and find out what they really mean, but I am shopping for groceries. 
This is just one item I want to buy. I want to buy a can of soup. That 
is what I want to do. But I have 20 more things on my list. I go to the 
second thing. Maybe I want to buy hot dogs, and now there are 10 
different versions of hot dogs. What am I going to do--take a picture 
of all 10 hot dogs for my second item on the list?
  Now I am 2 hours into my shopping trip. I have a child in the grocery 
cart who is hungry and who is tired and who wants to go home. I want to 
go home. I want to get home and cook dinner for myself and my family. I 
have to spend 2 hours to check out two products on my grocery shopping 
list. This is a complete sham.

[[Page S1471]]

  There is even more to come. This is sham No. 3 that is in the 
Monsanto Protection Act, Monsanto DARK Act--Denying Americans the Right 
to Know--2.0. Here is a wonderful idea. This says a company can provide 
information via social media, as in Facebook or Twitter or who knows 
what--Instagram. So here I am now. Picture this. This really takes the 
cake. I am in the store. I care about GE ingredients, and I check 
product No. 1 for their 800 number, but they don't have an 800 number, 
or they have it but it is not for this purpose because this company has 
done their voluntary disclosure not through the 800 number. So I think, 
well, am I supposed to take a picture of the smart code? I look for it. 
Maybe I find one. I take a picture, I go to the Web site, but no 
information is there because this company has decided to do voluntary 
disclosure through social media. Well, which social media? I am 
supposed to know if they are putting it up on Facebook or if they are 
supposed to be putting it on Instagram or on Twitter? No, because they 
can put it anywhere they want.

  So here we have a completely unworkable system in every possible way. 
In other words, all three of these ideas were put into this bill solely 
for the pretense that there is some form of disclosure to consumers.
  Now, why would the author of this bill that was put on the floor 
tonight go to this tremendous effort to have this pretense about 
disclosure? Well, let's go back to where I started. The reason for the 
pretense is that 9 out of 10 Americans want to know. So this is a scam 
on the American people.
  Right now, citizens in our country are very angry. They are very 
upset. We have gone through four decades in which the middle class has 
been squeezed, and they know they are getting the short end of the 
stick. They know that our national wealth has grown enormously but 
nothing is shared with the middle class. They know the system is 
rigged. And here comes our majority leader to put a bill on the floor 
that further rigs the system with this Monsanto DARK Act edition 2.0.
  So citizens across the country, this is being done to take away your 
rights when you are not paying attention because we are in the middle 
of a major primary tomorrow. So if you are aware of this Monsanto DARK 
Act 2.0 being on the floor right now and that there is going to be a 
vote on it on Wednesday morning, then weigh in and say it is not all 
right. Share with other Americans on your social media and say that 
this sham disclosure bill is not OK, that taking away the desire and 
right of 9 out of 10 Americans to want to know if there is GE 
ingredients in their food--taking away that right is a complete 
  This is the type of overreach that makes citizens mad. This is the 
type of jam-through legislation on behalf of a powerful special 
interest to take away what citizens care about that makes people mad. 
My colleagues across the aisle know that, so they want to jam this 
through in the dark of night when the country is not paying attention. 
That is simply not OK. It is not OK.
  Some may say: What is the big deal here? Aren't genetically 
engineered products all wonderful, and why would any citizen actually 
be concerned about them? Why do these 9 out of 10 citizens have this 
desire? They are just misled. There is no concern about GE ingredients. 
We are just taking away their right because they don't know what they 
are talking about. Their concerns are not legitimate.
  Well, I will tell my colleagues tonight that their concerns are 
legitimate. Genetic engineering can produce a benefit and it can 
produce problems, and therefore it is the citizens' right to be able to 
make the evaluation of how they want to spend their dollar, just as it 
is their right if they want to buy reconstituted juice versus fresh 
juice, just as it is their right if they want to buy wild fish rather 
than farmed fish, just as it is their right if they don't want to buy 
food with high fructose corn syrup, or maybe they do want to buy it, 
but they get to choose. They get to look at the ingredients and the 
labeling and they get to choose.
  Let me expand a little bit on this because science has provided us 
with both an accounting of some of the benefits and an accounting of 
some of the problems. Science indicates that there is some truth in 
both. For example, let's take one of the benefits. This is a picture of 
golden rice. Well, what is golden rice? In parts of the world, citizens 
suffer from a big deficiency of vitamin A. Therefore, this rice has 
been genetically engineered to have vitamin A in it, and it can, in 
parts of the world where rice is routinely eaten, help address that. 
Folks have said that is a good thing. Now, I don't know all the 
reverberations of cultivating this type of rice versus another type of 
rice. There might be a problem hidden away in those different 
cultivation techniques. But by and large, I have heard positive things 
about golden rice helping address a vitamin deficiency.
  Let's take transgenic carrots. Their cells have been cultivated in 
order to provide a substance that provides a cure to Gaucher's disease. 
So that seems like a benefit because people who suffer from Gaucher's 
disease are awfully happy about having a remedy.
  Let's take yams grown in South Africa. Well, they have several 
different viruses that affect these yams, and so by genetically 
engineering to resist these viruses, as far as I am aware, we don't 
know yet of any side effects that are a problem. As of now, this can be 
something that is generally registered as a benefit, to have that 
resistance to these viruses. There is even discussion of genetic 
modifications that can be done that serve in lieu of immunizations. 
That is a very interesting scientific idea. That could be a way to 
provide resistance to humans with certain diseases.

  That is only part of the story. Just as science has documented that 
there are benefits, there are also some concerns. Here in the United 
States, the major genetic modification is something called Roundup 
Ready. It makes a particular plant immune to the effects of an 
herbicide. Herbicides kill the plants, so this makes the plant immune 
to the substance that kills plants. Therefore, you can use this 
herbicide to control weeds without killing the corn or without killing 
sugar beets or without killing the cotton, and so forth.
  (Mr. DAINES assumed the Chair.)
  So what have we seen? Since this genetically engineered quality was 
developed, we have seen a massive increase in the use of herbicides on 
crops. It has gone from 7.4 million pounds back in 1994 to now over 160 
million pounds. We see this massive increase and its continued path to 
2012. One of the effects is that if you have this massive 160 million 
pounds of herbicide on fields that weren't there 20 years earlier, what 
you have is a lot of runoff of herbicide into our streams and into our 
rivers. When you put plant-killing stuff in our streams and rivers, it 
has an impact on the ecosystem. That is a scientifically documented 
legitimate concern.
  There is another concern. When we tilled fields to take down the 
weeds, it was mechanical, and in that disturbed soil grew a variety of 
things and the edges of fields grew a variety of things. One example is 
milkweed. It has been scientifically documented that there is a big 
reduction in these miscellaneous weeds and some of the related insects 
and species that otherwise would have inhabited that area near these 
fields. One example is the monarch butterfly. The monarch butterfly has 
crashed in the Midwest because of the dramatic reduction in milkweed 
with a change from mechanical tilling to herbicide control of weeds. 
That is just the canary in the coal mine--or the monarch in the coal 
mine. We don't know what else is being affected by this massive 
application of herbicides.
  Here is another challenge. This is an interesting genetic 
modification. This is called Bt corn. Bt corn has been genetically 
modified so it produces a pesticide inside each corn cell, and 
particularly the goal is that when the larvae of these beetles start 
eating, the pesticide would kill the larvae of these beetles. These 
larvae are referred to as the ``western corn worm.''
  The western corn worm does a lot of damage, and you put the pesticide 
inside the cells. Both the larvae and the beetles themselves like to 
eat the corn. They like to eat the strands of pollen that pollinate the 
corn. What can end up is corn that has only a few kernels on them. 
There is a greatly reduced amount of kernels as a result of the pollen 
being compromised. What is happening as a result of the prevalence of 
this Bt corn which is grown all over the United States? What is 

[[Page S1472]]

is that these larvae of the corn worms and beetles are developing a 
resistance to it because Mother Nature has a few surprises. At any one 
moment in a large population, there are thousands or millions of 
accidental mutations occurring. Out of those mutations, when millions 
and millions of these beetles and their larvae are exposed, eventually 
a few of them have a mutation that makes them immune to the pesticide. 
Then they proceed to have offspring, and then the offspring have more 
mutations and become more resistant. Suddenly, you now have to go back 
and put pesticides in these fields, even though there is a pesticide 
produced in each cell of the corn itself. That type of biofeedback is 
scientifically documented. That is a concern.
  There is an impact on creating what is sometimes called superweeds 
through herbicides and superbugs that are pesticide-resistant through 
the massive application of Bt GE engineering.
  This chart is just a reference to the problem in the waterways that I 
have already spoken to, so I don't think I need to repeat that.
  If there are advantages or benefits and there are scientifically 
documented problems, shouldn't it be up to the consumer to decide if 
they want to buy a product with genetically engineered ingredients? 
They are not stupid. They are not crazy. They have not invented some 
concerns. There are legitimate, scientifically documented benefits and 
legitimate scientifically documented concerns. So it should be up to 
the consumer.
  We tell consumers: Hey, you have thoughts about whether you would 
rather have wild fish or farm-raised fish, for example. Why do we 
require that? I will give you an example from the Pacific Northwest. In 
the Pacific Northwest a lot of salmon are raised in ocean pens. Those 
are farmed fish. They are very close together, and because they are 
very close together, they develop more diseases. There is a type of sea 
lice that becomes prevalent. Also, because they are not eating the same 
stuff wild fish eat, their meat is white, so they have to be fed a dye 
to make their meat the same color as wild salmon. There are folks who 
hear that and say: I have a preference. I would rather have farmed fish 
because they are cheaper, or I would rather have wild fish because I 
don't like the way farmed fish is raised. Maybe one likes the idea of 
supporting the wild fishing industry rather than the farm fishing 
industry. That is why we require the disclosure. So it should be a 
citizen's right to know.
  Right now here is where we are with this issue being jammed through 
in the middle of the night on behalf of a very powerful special 
interest, even though 9 out of 10 Americans don't agree.
  Well, let's ask the Presidential candidates where they stand--each 
and every candidate, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders from the 
Democratic side, Mr. Trump, Mr. Rubio, Mr. Cruz, and Mr. Kasich on the 
Republican side: Where do you stand on this issue that is going to be 
voted on Wednesday morning in this Chamber? Do you stand with the 9 out 
of 10 Americans who want the right to know whether there are GE 
ingredients in their food? Do you stand with the people, or do you 
stand with the powerful special interests that want American citizens 
to be kept in the dark? This is very relevant. Folks voting tomorrow in 
five primaries, in Florida, Illinois--whatever the other three are 
tomorrow--they want to know where the Presidential candidates stand. 
Are they going to be the type of leader who stands with the people, or 
are they going to be the type that wants to approve and say it is OK to 
slam this Deny Americans the Right to Know Act 2.0--this Monsanto act. 
It is all right to slam it through with no committee consideration in 
the dark of night when the country is not paying attention because of 
the big set of primaries tomorrow. I want to know where they stand.
  So I say to these candidates on the Republican side and the 
Democratic side: Call us up. Tell us where you stand. Call my office: 
202-224-3753. I will let the rest of the Senate know where you stand. 
We will make sure everyone knows whether you, the Presidential 
candidates, stand with the citizens of America and the right to know or 
whether you stand with the powerful special interests that want to 
strip States' rights to inform their citizens about information that 
they want.
  I want to know from the Presidential candidates: Do you believe that 
the Federal Government should strip States of the ability to label, 
even if their labels are all consistent with each other? Do you think 
that is OK? Do you care about States' rights? Do you see States as a 
laboratory where we can experiment with ideas and see if they work or 
  Right now Vermont is a laboratory. On July 1 they are going to have 
their first labeling law in the country, and that is an experiment that 
their citizens wanted, consistent with 9 out of 10 Americans who want 
to know. They responded; Vermont responded. They are the first State in 
the Union to do so. Are we going to cut that short? We are going to 
trash that ability of Vermont to conduct this experiment? We are going 
to stomp on the citizens' rights to know, not just in Vermont but in 
Oregon, Montana, Florida, and all 50 States, and throw in a few U.S. 
territories as well?
  Now the argument is made that this is very dangerous because there 
could be multiple States that produce different standards. But that 
doesn't exist. There will not be multiple States in July. There is only 
one State that has a bill. So it is a phony argument to say that this 
is somehow causing big, expensive problems because there are 
conflicting State standards, because there are no conflicting State 
standards. It is just one great State that responded to its citizens' 
desires. Who are we to stop that experiment now? We should endorse that 
experiment. We should endorse that State laboratory. We should watch to 
see how well it works. We know citizens want this and that they care a 
lot. So why take it away just because Monsanto and friends don't want 
Americans to know?
  How many Members here want to go home to their citizens and say: You 
know what, I represent all of us here in our State of Iowa or our State 
of Florida or our State of Montana or our State of Oregon--my home 
State--and it is OK with me if the Federal Government takes away your 
rights on something you really care about. That is what this Chamber is 
poised to do. That is why they are doing it in the dark of night, 
because the Senators who are here who are prepared to vote for the 
Monsanto DARK Act 2.0 don't want their citizens to know about it. That 
is why they have encouraged the strategy of putting it on the Senate 
floor on Monday night right before the big Tuesday primary, because 
citizens care a lot about knowing what they put in their mouth, and 
they care a lot about what they feed to their children. It is not 
simply whether it will make them sick. They care about the implications 
about the way different food is raised.
  When we talk about the difference between farmed fish and wild fish, 
it doesn't have anything to do with what is going to poison you. It 
isn't even necessarily the taste. The taste may be similar. It is about 
the citizens' concerns about the way the harvesting is done, about the 
way the crop is grown, the produce is grown. When we talk about the 
difference between constituted juice and we require disclosure, the 
difference between fresh juice and concentrated juice, it isn't because 
it is going to poison us when we put in our bodies, it is because 
citizens care about the process that got them to the product they are 
about to buy. They care about this, too.
  They care about it--Democrats, 92 percent; Republicans, 84 percent; 
Independents, 89 percent. In this deeply divided country, when 9 out of 
10 folks--Independents, Democrats, or Republicans--all say it is 
important, shouldn't we honor that? Shouldn't we not trounce on their 
rights? Shouldn't we not suppress the first State pilot project on 
something that 9 out of 10 citizens across the spectrum agree on? Yet 
that is the dirty deed this Chamber is planning for Wednesday morning. 
It is just wrong.

  I am deeply disturbed about what has become of our ``we the people'' 
Nation. What are those beautiful first three words of our Constitution? 
If you ask that in any townhall in America, the crowd at the townhall 
will respond: ``We the People.'' Those words are carved in our hearts 
because the core principle on which this Nation was

[[Page S1473]]

founded is that we would establish a republic where the decisions would 
be of, by, and for the people. But this vote on Wednesday morning is 
not of, by, and for the people; it is of, by, and for Monsanto and 
friends because they want to take away what we the people care about--
the right to know whether there are GE ingredients in their food.
  Each of us came to Congress and we pledged to uphold our 
responsibilities under the Constitution. I would have to assume that 
each and every one of the 100 Senators on this floor had actually read 
the Constitution. I certainly hope every Senator on this floor knows it 
starts out ``We the People,'' and I hope they understand why.
  After President Jefferson was out of office, he talked about the 
mother principle of our Republic, and that is that the decisions will 
serve the people. He talked about how for that to happen for each 
citizen, there has to be an equal voice.
  You can imagine the vision of the town square and that there is no 
charge for standing in the town square and expressing your opinion. It 
is free. But every citizen gets to stand and have their say with an 
equal voice before a vote is taken. That is the equal voice President 
Jefferson talked about. That is the equal voice concept President 
Lincoln talked about, that understanding that each citizen would have a 
proportionate equal voice. That was embedded in our Founders' minds. 
They hadn't yet envisioned a world in which the town square is now for 
sale. The town square is now for sale. The town square is television, 
radio. You have to buy ads on it, and it is expensive. So you have to 
pay to stand and make your point. And those with the most money get to 
stand up for a longer period of time than those with little money. 
Those with the most money get to purchase the equivalent of a stadium 
sound system to drown out the voice of ordinary people.
  Here is what I want to know: On Wednesday morning, is this Chamber 
going to respond to those with those stadium sound systems and proceed 
to drown out the voice of the people?
  Let's put up that 89 percent chart.
  This is the choice of the people--Democrats, Republicans, 
Independents who care about this. Wednesday morning, are we going to 
drown out their desires on behalf of the powerful special interests? 
Are we going to stamp out States' rights on behalf of a powerful 
special interest?
  Let's not do that. Let's not go in that shameful direction, that 
direction which is completely contrary to the principles that founded 
this Nation of an equal voice, a nation, as Lincoln said, that operates 
of, by, and for the people.
  If we want to have this debate over conflicting State labels, then 
fine. Let's create a common standard. Let's create one common standard 
for the entire country, a little symbol on the ingredients. That is all 
it would take. It could be any symbol, and the FDA could choose it so 
there is nothing pejorative about it. It is not taking up space on the 
package. It is not taking up space on the cover. It is not pejorative. 
It is not demeaning. It doesn't imply there is anything wrong. It just 
says this is something citizens want to know, just as they want to know 
farm versus wild for fish; just as they want to know concentrate versus 
nonconcentrate for juice; just as they want to know what minerals, 
vitamins, and ingredients are in the food they are buying. This they 
want to know. So honor that. Let's not tear down that vision laid out 
in the first three words of our Constitution and replace ``We the 
People'' with ``We the Titans.''
  If you want to be a Senator in a republic that starts out with a 
Constitution that says ``We the Titans,'' then please go be a Senator 
in a different nation. Go to work somewhere else but not here in the 
United States of America where we have a responsibility to the citizens 
and the citizens are clear on where they stand.
  So if we must vote on Wednesday--and there is no need to. We are only 
voting on Wednesday because within seconds of this bill being 
introduced tonight, the majority leader also put forward a petition 
that forces a vote on closing debate on Wednesday morning. No. So 
before anyone has had a word to say, a petition has already been filed 
to close debate. What kind of a democratic process is that? So the only 
time to speak to this is tomorrow when the whole world is paying 
attention to the primaries in five different States--and tonight. That 
is why I am speaking tonight.
  So I am hoping a few people are tuned in enough to activate their 
networks and to say: This is wrong, Mr. Majority Leader. Pull that bill 
from this floor. That is a terrible assault on deliberative democracy. 
Send it to a committee and actually have a debate on it so people can 
analyze it. Give people in that committee the opportunity to do 
amendments. Give citizens across the Nation the chance to find out this 
is going on. Honor the people of this Nation and their right to know.
  Thank you, Mr. President.