Monthly Archives: March 2014

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Debate Continues on. H.112

This Last Wednesday the Senate Judiciary Committee continued their deliberations on H.112, Vermont’s GMO labeling bill. The Committee has spent the last two weeks examining the work done by their colleagues in the House and the Senate to make sure that the bill is as strong as possible.

The Committee spent the morning hearing from a diverse set of voices about what products should be labeled if the bill becomes law. One concern of the Committee is should the bill also require labels on meat and milk that comes from animals that are not genetically engineered.

The Committee did not come to any resolutions, and will continue their work on the bill, and a vote could happen as early as next week. Keep checking VTRightToKnowGMOs.org and our Facebook and Twitter pages for the latest on what’s happening in the State House.

In the meantime, please help share your support for GMO labeling with your community by writing a letter to the editor of your local paper.Vermont is poised to become the first state to actually see labels on GMO foods. The dedicated work from our supporters helped get us here; please don’t let up now. Your voices are even more crucial than ever- submit a letter to the editor.

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Doyle Poll Results, Senate Vote Likely This Week

The results are in from Senator Doyle’s annual Town Meeting survey, and the people have spoken! The majority of Vermonters want to see labels on genetically engineered foods. 76% of responders voted yes to the question “Should food products sold in Vermont produced with genetic engineering be labeled?,” with 15% responding “no” and 9% saying they were “not sure.” Thank you to all who took the time to submit your thoughts via the poll. Didn’t get a chance to fill out the survey, but still want your voice heard? Consider writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper! Its a great way to make sure the legislature knows how you feel and to start a conversation about GMO labeling in your community.

The survey results are heartening news as we move into the last of the Senate Judiciary hearings this week. On Wednesday, the committee will be hearing another round of testimony from various food and agricultural interests from around the state, leading up to a possible vote on H.112. While there will be no opportunity for public comment, all those wishing to observe the proceedings are welcome to Room 11 of the State House on Wednesday morning. We will be posting updates via facebook and twitter Wednesday afternoon with the results of the vote should it take place. Stay tuned!

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Senate Committee Hears Testimony on GMO Labeling

Wednesday morning the Senate Judiciary committee met to hear testimony from expert witnesses regarding the GMO Labeling bill, mostly regarding the constitutionality of the bill and the potential legal challenges faced by Vermont should H.112 be passed.

There was some opposition to the bill being voiced at this hearing. Stanley Abramson , a lobbyist representing the biotech industry, opposed the bill saying that GMO labeling would be “misleading” since it implies a difference between GMO and non-GMO foods. Val Giddings of the Information Technology Foundation argued that consumers can already choose non-GMO foods by buying organic or “Non-GMO Project” certified foods.

To counter these arguments, Laura Murphy, a professor at Vermont Law School’s environmental law clinic, testified in favor of the bill. She noted that the bill as written is constitutional and would have a good chance of withstanding a challenge in the courts. VPIRG’s Falko Schilling echoed this sentiment, noting that ”we think since the state of Vermont has adopted the concerns of their citizens having to do with health, safety and the environment, what makes the most sense is to say let’s just go forward and put this law into effect since we have done the work to vet it and make sure it’s constitutional.”

For more information about the constitutionality of H.112, you can check out this memorandum from the Environmental & Natural Resources Law Clinic, as well as these factsheets, one with a brief Q&A about legal precedence for the bill, and the other a more detailed outline of H.112′s legal points.

The committee will meet again this morning to further discuss the bill. Read more about Wednesday’s hearing at vtdigger.com, and listen below to a recent WAMC radio piece featuring members of the VTRTK coalition:

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GMO OMG Director Jeremy Seifert and VPIRG's Falko Schilling

A Week in the Life of a Labeling Bill

Excitement around H.112 has been building again this week!  Not only are we in the middle of a series of fantastic events, but the GMO Labeling bill will again be the topic of discussion in the state house! The Senate Judiciary committee will be hearing testimony from expert witnesses this Wednesday and Friday. Testimony is scheduled to begin on Wednesday morning, and will focus on the constitutionality of, and the legal issues surrounding, H.112. Discussion in committee will continue on Friday morning. If anyone is interested in coming to the state house to observe the testimony (they won’t be taking public comment this time around), the full committee schedule can be found here – remember to double check before leaving to make sure the schedule hasn’t changed!

In other news, the film screenings and workshops being held around the state have been great! Thanks to everyone who came out — we’ve already shown the film to well over 200 people and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. If you haven’t already attended, we encourage you to come out to film screenings in Middlebury and Woodstock this week, and a GMO workshop scheduled for Brattleboro. Click here to find the times and locations of these events, and remember to spread the word to friends and family living in those areas!

Looking for another way to get involved? Right now, the most important thing everyone can do is to write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. This is great way to create a dialogue with your neighbors, as well as to publicly support the bill and show our legislators that their constituents care about this issue. Want help drafting your letter, or need to know where to send it? Click here to find some tips, talking points, and guidelines on how to submit your letter to various papers around the state. When you decide to submit, let us know by emailing eliza@vpirg.org! Thanks so much for your help!

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Join us for a film screening or workshop!

Interested in seeing a new documentary about GMOs? Or attending a free workshop co-sponsored by your local co-op? This week, there’s lots of fun and informative events happening across the state. We’d love it if you joined us!

Film screenings of GMO OMG, a documentary by Jeremy Seifert, will be held in St. Johnsbury, Middlebury and Woodstock this week. For more information about times and locations, click here.

The free workshop series continues this week in Brattleboro. At this workshop, the VT Right To Know coalition will give customers the tools they’ll need to navigate the current marketplace, affect the change necessary to create a new GMO-free marketplace, and to pass a GMO labeling law in Vermont. For more information about times and locations of these workshops, click here.

We hope you can join us for one of these events, where you can learn more about GMOs, where the labeling campaign stands right now, and how you can get involved to help pass H.112!

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Policy Update: GMO Legislation in VT

Curious where things stand with H.112? Check out this video with Dave Rogers, Andrea Stander, and Will Allen to learn more about the past, present and future of Vermont’s GMO Labeling Legislation!

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