Monthly Archives: November 2014

OR-Right-to-Know

GMO Labeling Headed for a Recount in Oregon

Final tallies for Oregon’s Measure 92 to label genetically engineered foods have “Yes on 92” behind by a mere 809 votes, triggering an automatic recount. Many news sources declared measure 92 dead earlier this month, but the hard work and dedication of activists and organizers across the state to ensure that thousands of ballots are properly counted has closed the gap to 809 votes. The final difference between the two sides is less than 0.1% of the more than 1,500,000 votes cast. Under Oregon election law, races or ballot measures within a 0.2% margin trigger an automatic recount paid for by the state.

Oregon’s GMO labeling measure faced unprecedented spending by major biotech and industrial scale food producers in opposition to labeling. Companies like Monsanto, Pepsi, Coke and other members of the Grocery Manufacturers Association spent millions on advertising to convince the voters of Oregon to reject Measure 92. If Measure 92 eventually prevails, it will make Oregon the first state to pass a GMO labeling law through the ballot initiative process.

For the latest on the recount, and to find ways to help visit oregonrighttoknow.org

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Vermont’s GMO Legal Battle Heats up

Last Week the Attorney General’s office and three outside groups, including VPIRG, filed briefs in federal court asking the judge to throw out a food industry lawsuit that aims to stop the implementation of Vermont’s first in the nation GMO labeling law. These filings were made in response to a request for a preliminary injunction filed by the plaintiffs earlier this year.

The major issues discussed in these filings revolve around whether or not the State has the ability to require manufacturers to label products produced with genetic engineering. The plaintiffs have claimed Vermont’s law compels commercial speech in violation of the First Amendment, while the State claims that the legislature was well within their power to require this information.

Oral Arguments on the competing motions are expected as early as mid-December, with a decision from the judge to follow.

To read the filings click the link below, or you can visit the Attorney General’s webpage for all filings in the case so far.

Attorney General’s Filing (Supporting documents can be found here)
VPIRG and CLF Amicus Brief
Free Speech for People Amicus Brief
Vermont Community Law Center Amicus Brief
All filings in the case to date.

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Now Available: Dr. Vandana Shiva Vermont Talk Videos

The Right to Know Coalition would like to thank anyone who was able to make it so much for joining us for Vandana Shiva’s inspiring talks! It was incredible to have the opportunity to hear in person from one of the world’s most prominent and dedicated activists on the issue of genetically engineered food and its impact on our global food supply and the sovereignty of farmers around the world.

If you didn’t catch her motivating words, or just want to revisit them, video’s of both of Dr. Shiva’s presentations are now online for you to watch and share:

CLICK HERE to see or share Dr. Shiva’s Burlington presentation.

CLICK HERE to watch her Vermont Law School presentation.

All the members of the VPIRG, Rural Vermont, NOFA-VT and Cedar Circle Farm, were gratified and humbled by Dr. Shiva’s assessment that our grassroots victory here in Vermont has great significance for other activists around the world. That means no pause in our work to ensure that our GMO Food Labeling law is implemented on schedule and true to the legislative intent of giving Vermonters the right to know what is in their food. It also means that we have to martial the legal expertise and financial support to defend our law from the corporate interests that seek to strike it down.

Cropped GMO Label

Attorney General Holds Listening Sessions on GMO Labeling Rule

Recently the Attorney General hosted a series of meetings across Vermont to introduce their first draft of the proposed rules for Act 120, Vermont’s first in the nation GMO labeling law. Act 120 was passed by the Vermont legislature in May, and genetically engineered food sold in Vermont will need to be labeled starting July 1st 2016. Under the law the Attorney General’s office is tasked with developing the rules that lay out exactly how the law will be implemented.

This series of meetings was the first step in developing the state’s GMO labeling rules. The Attorney General’s office laid out the timeline below to let Vermonters know the next steps in the process.

  • Winter/Spring 2015: Formal comment and public meeting period
  •  July 2015: Anticipated final rule approval
  • Summer 2015: Issue guidance on compliance and enforcement
  • Summer 2016: Labeling starts

There are a number of ways that you can stay in the loop and have your voice heard on this important issue. The first step is to read the Attorney General’s proposed rule. The rule builds off of Act 120 and further clarifies issues such as what is “processed food” and what are meals prepared for “immediate consumption”. These details matter and they will have an impact on what labeling looks like in Vermont.

See the Attorney General’s Powerpoint on the proposed rule here, or read the proposed rule here.

Once you have looked over the proposed rule you can comment to the Attorney General at any time by contacting ago.GEFoodLabelingRule@state.vt.us

Finally if you want to receive the latest updates on the Attorney General’s rulemaking process you can sign up here.

Thanks for all you do and make sure you comment so you can have your voice heard!