Celeb: It was a two-for-one VIP special, with actress/cookbook author/lifestyle blogger Gwyneth Paltrow and her mother, actress Blythe Danner, visiting the Hill on Wednesday.
Cause: Labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food. The mother-daughter duo is backing the “Just Label It” movement (not to be confused with “No Labels,” which is another issue entirely) to fight a House-passed bill that would make it harder for the FDA to require GMO disclosure.
Scene: A room on the Senate side of the Capitol, packed with cameras, journalists, and at least a few gawking interns. Escorted by a phalanx of senators, including Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Paltrow looked tan and slender in navy palazzo pants and a billowy white button-down. Danner was summery-cool in a white cotton pantsuit, a coordinating straw hat in hand.
After remarks from the lawmakers (many jokes about the cameras not being there for them — sorry guys; true) and their guests, the proceedings took on the feel of a political campaign event, with a rep from the opposing side slipping a news release to reporters headlined, “Paltrow Ignores Concerns of American Families in Lobbying Against Bipartisan Legislation.” Boxer addressed the anti-labeling faction’s criticism of the “Goop” founder as out of touch. “When people ridicule you, whether you’re a senator or a teacher or a truck driver or an actress, they want to shut you down,” she said. “If you weren’t effective, they wouldn’t bother.”
Soundbite: Paltrow sounded a just-regular-folks note in her turn at the podium. “I’m not here as an expert,” she said. “I’m here as a mom, as an American mom who thinks I have the right to know what’s in the food I’m serving my family.” Later, asked how she shopped for her family, she maintained that they’re just the A-listers-next-door. “They’re normal, American children — they eat everything that other kids do,” she said.
While Paltrow stuck to the more-digestible party line (that the science is still out on GMOs and that it’s a matter of giving consumers a choice), Danner went further. “The herbicides alone that they have to treat these GMOs with are off the charts,” she said.