Monthly Archives: January 2014

Last year we filled the State House with over 400 citizens calling for GMO labeling. This year, we can get the job done and Thursday, Feb. 6th is your chance to be heard. Join us!

Speak out in support of GMO Labeling next Thursday

Last year we filled the well of the State House with citizens from all corners of Vermont. They helped us raise the volume of grassroots voices calling fro commonsense labeling of GMOs. This is the year we can make that happen – and we’ve got another chance next week to make sure YOUR voice is heard by the State Senators who will cast the critical votes to make this happen. 

We’re mobilizing hundreds of Vermonters from Averill to Bennington to Wilmington to Vernon and everywhere in between to come to the public hearing on GMO labeling this coming Thursday, Feb. 6th from 6 to 8pm at the State House. We hope you can join us. We’ll be helping to arrange transportation, carpools and even housing fro those that want to make the trip to take part in this momentous opportunity to let legislators hear directly from you.

Download the poster and help us spread the word.

socialmedia_POSTER_feb_6_2014_public hearing_v2carpool to hearing

 

 

VPIRG hosted a GMO Labeling Campaign event at the Vermont State House Thursday advocating a strong GMO labeling bill be passed through the state Senate in the 2014 legislative session.

Citizens Converge on Montpelier to Demand GMO Labeling

Citizens from every corner of Vermont came to the State House to rally, and lobby their senators in support of labeling genetically engineered foods (also known as GMOs). Continue reading

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Join us for the GMO labeling lobby day Jan 16th!

Dave Rogers, Policy Advisor of NOFA-VT discusses the upcoming GMO Labeling Lobby Day set for Jan. 16, 2014 in Montpelier, Vermont. The event was organized by Vermont Right to Know GMOs to bring citizen voices in to the State House in anticipation of a Senate vote on H.112, the bill that would label GMO foods sold in Vermont.

If passed, it will be the first GMO labeling bill to go in to effect in the United States of America.

You can view the video here!

zuckerman in ag committee

GMO Labeling Front and Center in the First Week of the Session

The 2014 Vermont legislative session kicked off this Tuesday and GMO labeling is a top priority on the agenda. H.112, the bill to label GMO foods, was sent to the Senate Agriculture committee where it was the primary focus of their work. The committee heard testimony from four members of the VT Right to Know GMOs coalition as well as from interests opposed to the bill.

Testimony began with Laura Murphy of the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic (ENRLC) at Vermont Law School who walked the committee through an in-depth analysis of the legal issues involved with the bill. The ENRLC has spent over a year looking at the bill and has developed an extensive 70 page memo outlining the state’s strong legal footing in requiring GMO foods to be labeled. Murphy also outlined proposed changes to make the bill even stronger and more consistent with legislation recently passed by the legislatures in Connecticut and Maine.

Next, the Committee heard from Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG) Consumer Protection Advocate Falko Schilling about the strong public support for GMO labeling and consumer’s right to know what they are eating and feeding their families. Schilling presented the committee with polls showing over 90% of Americans in support of GMO labeling, and reported on the VPIRG summer canvass where over 30,000 Vermonters signed post cards calling on their legislators to pass the bill this session.

On Friday the Committee heard from both Dave Rogers, the Policy Advisor at the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA- VT), and Dan Barlow, the Public Policy Manager for Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility (VBSR). Rogers outlined the number of studies that raise concerns about the possible negative health impacts associated with eating GMO foods saying, ”in light of the uncertainty around the health impacts of these foods labeling is the reasonable and prudent thing to do.”
Finally, the committee wrapped up the week with testimony from VBSR Policy Manager Dan Barlow in support of H.112. VBSR is a non-profit, statewide business trade organization with a mission to advance business ethics that value multiple bottom lines – economic, social, and environmental. VBSR is a strong supporter of the legislation with over 80% of their membership backing the bill. Barlow outlined how GMOs pose a threat to the Vermont brand and advocated that the state be bold in our actions and pass a bill that will not require action in other states to become effective.

The committee will hear more testimony next week as they move towards a likely vote in January. For the most up to date info make sure you like us on Facebook and keep checking back as we get deeper in the legislative session.

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VPIRG’s Testimony in Support of H.112

The following testimony was presented to the Senate Agriculture Committee in support of H.112, an bill that would require labels on GMO foods sold in Vermont.

To: Senate Committee on Agriculture
From: Falko Schilling, Esq., Consumer Protection Advocate, VPIRG

Date: January 9th, 2014
Re: Labeling of genetically engineered food products

For the record, my name is Falko Schilling and I am the Consumer Protection Advocate at the Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG).  VPIRG is the state’s largest nonprofit consumer and environmental advocacy organization with more than 30,000 members and supporters across Vermont.  VPIRG is one of the founding members of the VT Right to Know GMOs coalition which has grown to represent over approximately 200 farms, food producers, Co-oops and other organizations. I am here to testify in support of H.112 which would require labels on genetically engineered (GE) foods sold in Vermont.

In 2012 our coalition worked with members of the House of Representatives to craft the foundation of the bill that you see in front of you today. From day 1 our goal was to create a bill that informed Vermonters about what was in their food, and that was legally defensible. We believe that the bill in front of you accomplishes these purposes.

Vermonters currently don’t have the ability to know if food products have been produced using genetic engineering unless they are specially certified. This bill prevents consumer deception and gives Vermonters essential information to help them make informed choices about avoiding the health risks and environmental impacts associated with GE foods. We support H.112 for the following reasons.

Vermonters and the majority of Americans want GE foods to be labeled.

This summer VPIRG collected over 30,000 postcards from Vermonters in every corner of the sate asking their Senators to pass a GMO labeling bill this session.  The broad public support for this legislation is not surprising. Poll after poll has found that over 90% of Americans support GE labeling. [i] These Vermonters are simply asking for the same information that is available to citizens of the European Union, Russia, China and 64 countries around the world.

Labeling will give consumers greater ability to make informed food choices.

This bill will create common sense labeling requirements that will allow Vermonters to make informed decisions about what they eat and feed their families. Vermonters will also benefit from the prohibition of misleading and deceptive advertising that represents GE foods as “natural”.

GE foods are not adequately tested by the FDA.

The FDA does not test GE foods for their safety before allowing them to be sold for human consumption.  The FDA relies on tests conducted by the producers of these GE products to verify the safety of the GE foods.[ii]

A growing body of evidence indicates there is possible health risks associated with eating GE foods.

A recent study done by Canadian researchers found that 93% of pregnant mothers and 80% of their fetal cord samples tested positive for Cry 1Ab toxin.[iii] The study concluded that, “given the potential toxicity of these environmental pollutants and the fragility of the fetus, more studies are needed.”[iv]

GE corn varieties have been linked to organ failure in animals.[v] These effects were mostly seen in the kidney and liver, while other effects were seen in the heart, adrenal glands, spleen and hematopoietic system.[vi]

Labeling will not increase the cost of food for Vermonters.

Reports prepared by Oregon State University and Emory University School of Law found costs associated with GE labeling to be negligible, less than $2.00 per person per year.[vii]

VPIRG and the VT Right to Know GMOs Coalition do not support a contingent effective date for H.112.

The state legislatures in Connecticut and Maine recently passed GE labeling legislation that would only become effective when similar legislation was passed other states. We do not support any modification to the effective date of H.112 that would make the bill’s implementation dependent on the actions of other states. A contingent effective date would not accomplish the purpose of the bill.



[i] Center for Food Safety.  Polls on GMO Labeling http://gefoodlabels.org/gmo-labeling/polls-on-gmo-labeling/

[ii] US Food and Drug Administration. Statement of policy: Foods derived from new plant varieties. FDA Federal Register. 29 May 1992; 57(104): 229.

[iii] Maternal and fetal exposure to pesticides associated to genetically modified foods in Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada. Reprod Toxicol. 2011 May;31(4):528-33. doi: 10.1016/j.reprotox.2011.02.004. Epub 2011 Feb 18. Aris A, Leblanc S. Available at /www.uclm.es/Actividades/repositorio/pdf/doc_3721_4666.pdf

[iv] Id.

[v] A comparison of the effects of three GM corn varieties on mammalian health. Int J Biol Sci. 2009 Dec 10;5(7):706-26.de Vendômois JS, Roullier F, Cellier D, Séralini GE. Available at http://www.biolsci.org/v05p0706.pdf

[vi]  Id.

[vii] Studies found at http://www.anh-usa.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/GE-Food-Act-Costs-Assessment.pdf, http://arec.oregonstate.edu/jaeger/personal/em8817.pdf

 

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Label GMOs Now!

Happy first day of the Vermont 2014 Legislative Session from us all at the Right to Know GMO Coalition!

In a little more than a week, on January 16th Vermonters from every corner of the state will be helping the Right to Know Coalition kick off the session by coming to Montpelier and standing up for their right to know. Last year we became the first state to pass a GMO labeling bill through any legislative chamber, and these next few critical months will be our chance to make this bill a law.

This year we are facing incredible opposition from corporate agriculture and the biotech industry, but if enough Vermonters are willing to talk to their Senators we have a real chance to become the first state where we see labels on GMO foods. Join us on January 16th to prove now is the time for legislators to protect the right to know what’s in our food!

Click here to learn more about the plan for the day as well as to register. We will begin the day with a 1:00 rally on the capitol steps where we will make sure that Senators get the message that the time to label GMOs is now! Then the Vermont Right to Know GMOs Coalition will host a networking and teach-in event at nearby Christ Episcopal Church. Leaders from the Campaign will be on hand to give you the latest updates on the campaign and to make sure you have the tools you need when talking with your lawmakers.

Bring colorful signs with strong messages for the rally, and your digital devices to record the day.

Hope to see you all there. Our time is now!