Author Archive: Colleen

Things are moving in the State House

Yesterday, the House Agriculture Committee began hearing testimony on H.112, a bill that would require labels on genetically engineered food sold in retail stores in Vermont.  From the start of the session it has been clear that the prospects of Vermont passing GE labeling legislation have improved from last year.

This year’s bill was introduced to the House of Representatives with tripartisan support from Democrats, Republicans and Progressives. In all, 50 of the 150 representatives signed on to sponsor this year’s legislation.

The broad support for this legislation was echoed by Speaker of the House, Shap Smith yesterday.  “Vermonters want to know what’s in their food. To the extent that we can create a bill that allows them access to that information and can survive constitutional scrutiny, we’ll move it,” Smith said. “People are working hard to see if a bill can get there.”

Over the next two days, Dr. Michael Hansen, senior scientist for Consumers Union – the company that publishes Consumer Reports –  will support mandatory labeling in his testimony in both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees. Hansen also has meetings scheduled with top House and Senate leaders.

A lot will be happening on this issue in the coming days and weeks. If you want to learn more, make to join us for one of the community organizing sessions taking place around the state during last week of February. Find out more details about these meetings here.

We Have a Bill!

Yesterday, a group of 50 Representatives, including Republicans, Democrats, and Progressives introduced Vermont H.112, this year’s GMO-labeling legislation in the VT House. The bill was referred to the VT House Committee on Agriculture, the same committee as last year’s bill. Thanks to the experience of last year, as well as the broad popular and tripartisan support benefiting this year’s bill, things are looking good at this early stage. Continue Reading

Coalition Recognizes Ben & Jerry’s Statement of Support

Montpelier, VT – Today, Ben & Jerry’s announced that it stands with the growing movement to bring transparency to our food system by supporting legislation requiring mandatory labeling of foods produced with genetic engineering, or GMOs. The company has also committed to source only non-GMO ingredients by the end of 2013.

“This is a big victory for consumers and ice cream lovers everywhere,” said Falko Schilling, Vermont Public Interest Research Group’s consumer protection advocate. “Ben & Jerry’s is demonstrating a real commitment to its customers, and we believe it’ll be good for business as well.  Whether it’s potato chips or Cherry Garcia, consumers want to know what’s in their food, and they’ll stand behind companies that support their right to know.”

Rural Vermont Executive Director Andrea Stander commented on the announcement saying, “Rural Vermont welcomes Ben & Jerry’s commitment to be a national leader on this issue and support for the campaign to give everyone the right to know if their food has been genetically engineered. Vermont is in the vanguard of the movement to build healthy, sustainable, community-based food systems. These systems are thriving because they are based on trust and providing direct knowledge of where our food comes from and how it is produced.”

“Ben and Jerry’s has made the right decision,” said Dave Rogers, Policy Advisor for the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont. “Our right to know what is in our food is fundamental, and the evidence to support the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods is very compelling.”

The announcement was also applauded by Vermont lawmakers. “It’s great to see such a respected Vermont specialty food company recognizing that mandatory GE labeling is the right thing for their company and their customers,” said Senator David Zuckerman.

Representative Kate Webb, a leading sponsor of proposed GE labeling legislation in Vermont, said, “We are thrilled to hear that Ben and Jerry’s is joining thousands of Vermonters and consumers around the country calling for mandatory labeling of foods produced through genetic engineering. Last year, the Vermont House Agriculture Committee took a great deal of testimony demonstrating that the State has a compelling interest this labeling. This year, we will address the remaining technical and legal concerns to develop a law that meets the needs of the people and will prevail in court.”

The announcement by Ben and Jerry’s today carries added significance because its corporate parent, Unilever, contributed $467,000 to defeat a GE food labeling ballot initiative in California just months ago.  The California initiative – Prop 37 – went down to defeat after a coalition of giant chemical companies and food manufacturers spent more than $45 million to defeat it.

“We’re used to seeing Ben and Jerry’s as a leader when it comes to consumer and environmental protection,” said VPIRG’s Schilling.  “But the company deserves extra credit in this case distinguishing their position from their parent company’s actions in favor of consumers’ right to know. This kind of bold, pro-consumer move will give a huge boost to our efforts to pass GMO Right to Know legislation in Vermont.”

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A New Year, a New Campaign

Right to Know GMOs is back for 2013!

The 2013 legislative session has begun, and we are excited to see that as a result of your efforts last year, labeling genetically engineered foods (often called GMOs) will once again be a key issue in the State House. In pre-session conversations we heard from many more legislators that now support labeling GMOs, and we anticipate that bills will be introduced in both the House and the Senate very soon. We know that an overwhelming majority of Vermonters want to see GMO foods labeled, and now it’s time for us to make it happen.

National Support

After California’s labeling proposition was overwhelmed by corporate spending and misleading advertisements last November, Vermont is once again taking the lead on labeling genetically engineered foods in the United States. Support is coming from all corners of the country, and with your help we can ensure Vermonters have the right to know if what they eat and feed their families has been genetically engineered or has genetically engineered ingredients.

Time for Action

This legislative session, we’ll be all over the state, building public support and visibility for this important campaign. By signing our petitions and taking our actions, you help us immensely. By sharing those tools with your friends, you help even more. Last year, thousands of Vermonters rallied in front of the state house, cementing this issue as a key, defining moment in Vermont’s food future. This year, by building enough enthusiasm and involvement, we can ensure that our legislators make the right choice, and respect our right to know what’s in the food we eat and feed our families.

Join the VT Right to Know GMOs 2013 Campaign

Vermonters should have a right to know about GMOs!

“We the undersigned have the right to know if our food is the product of genetic engineering, or contains genetically engineered ingredients, and we urge our elected officials to pass legislation requiring the labeling of GMO foods sold in Vermont.”

<a href=”http://salsa.wiredforchange.com/o/5980/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=6835″>Add Your Name</a>

Unnatural Buffet at State House Raises Questions About GMO Labeling

The Vermont Right to Know GMOs coalition held an “Unlabeled and Unnatural Buffet” at the Vermont State House today. The problem: right now, without a law requiring GMOs to be labeled, we just don’t know.

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Bill requiring labeling of genetically engineered food saved from procedural death

Proponents of labeling also cite GMOs’ environmental effects. Gary Hirshberg, chairman of organic yogurt producer Stonyfield Farms, said that crops with a gene for resistance to a widely used herbicide, glyphosate (sold under the trade name Roundup), have resulted in herbicide-resistant “superweeds” on over 13 million acres of farmland in 26 states. This leads, he said, to greater use of stronger defoliants like 2,4-D. Continue reading

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Vermont Looks to Become First State in the Nation to Require Labeling of Genetically Engineered Foods

The Vermont Right to Know GMOs coalition launched its campaign today in support of the Vermont Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act (H.722). This bill would make Vermont the first state in the nation to require the labeling of genetically engineered foods.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Kate Webb of Shelburne, would address consumer concerns by requiring food sold at retail outlets in Vermont to be labeled if it is genetically engineered, or partially produced with genetic engineering.
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Genetically Modified Organisms in Food

More support for the campaign from our friends at Black River Roasters:

More and more people are reading food labels before they buy products to be conscious of what they are actually consuming and to avoid certain things such as trans-fat, sugar, aspartame, and MSG.  However, one thing that you will not be able to avoid is genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) or genetically engineered (GE) ingredients since they are not listed on the food labels.  In the United States, over 70% of all packaged foods sold contain GE ingredients!  Now as consumers, shouldn’t we have the right to know what exactly is in our food?

Check it out!

With Dairy Law Enacted, Vermont Turns to GMO Labeling

Food Safety News discusses the VT Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act.

One bill that could shake things up in the current session is House Bill 722, a 16-page measure requiring labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients.

The bill, known as the Vermont Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act, was called an “initiative against Monsanto and other biotechnology corporations” by the Organic Consumers Association (OCA).

“Perhaps most monumental is the fact that the legislation would prohibit GMO food manufacturers from using promotional labels like “natural,” “naturally made,” “naturally grown,” “all natural,” or any words of similar import, the OCA said.

“This bill proposes to provide that food is misbranded if it is entirely or partially produced with genetic engineering and it is not labeled as genetically engineered,” according to the bill’s statement of purpose.

Click here to read the full article.