Author Archive: Eliza Walp

senatevoteyes

Vermont Passes GMO Labeling!

After years of hard work and dedicated action Vermont’s GMO labeling Bill has passed both the House and Senate! Today members of the VT House of representatives voted 114 to 30 to concur with the Senate version of the bill and to pass H.112. This nation leading “no strings attached” GMO labeling policy now heads to Governor Shumlin’s Desk for his signature.

Call Governor Shumlin today and urge Him to Sign H.112 into Law

We are one small step away from ratifying the strongest GMO labeling bill in the United States. From all of us at the Coalition we thank our allies across Vermont  and across the country who made this possible. It is your action, passion, and commitment to your right to know that got us here.

H.112 will require labels on GMO foods starting in 2016, and would go in to effect without actions in other states. We could not have asked for a better outcome, and it is all thanks to you!

We now need to make sure that the Governor signs the bill, so please give him a call today.

This campaign has been energizing and inspiring to all of us who have worked to label GMO foods. Right now, all eyes are on Vermont and the essential work we have accomplished. It is all because Vermonters like you stood up and made it clear they have a right to know what is in their food- thank you!

Want to learn more about Wednesday’s vote? Check out the news coverage we’ve been getting!

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Senate Agriculture Committee Approves GMO Labeling Bill 4-1

Following a packed public hearing in the House Chamber the night before, the members of the Senate Agriculture Committee met this morning to review proposed changes to H.112, the GMO Labeling Bill. They then passed the bill by a vote of 4-1 with no trigger clause to impact the effective date of the bill. Clearly impressed and even moved by the out-pouring of passionate, well-informed testimony in favor of the bill at the public hearing (no one spoke against GMO labeling) the Committee first removed two alternative “trigger” clauses they had been considering over the past few days. They then edited the House version of the effective date for the bill making it simply July 1, 2015. “It is a strong vote for state autonomy and Vermonters’ clear indication that they want this information due to their environmental and health concerns.” said Sen. David Zuckerman following the vote. Although Sen. Norm McAllister cast the lone vote against the bill, he did support removing the trigger language in a preliminary vote. All members of the Committee expressed their appreciation for the Vermonters who attended the Public Hearing and in turn the VT Right to Know advocates, who were in the committee room for the vote, thanked the members of the Committee for their diligent work and for holding the public hearing. Falko Schilling, Consumer Protection Advocate for VPIRG and a partner in the VT Right to Know Coalition said “Last night’s public hearing made clear what we already knew, the vast majority of Vermonters support this bill and want to see GMO foods labeled. The Agriculture Committee has spent the last month putting in long hours making this bill as strong as possible and we are extremely pleased with the result of their work.” The bill will now be referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee where there will be further debate about its merits most likely beginning some time after the Town Meeting week break. In the meantime, stay posted for ways you can help move the bill forward. Thank you to all those who made it to the hearing last night, and all our supporters throughout Vermont!

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The People Have Spoken: Pass H.112 Without a Trigger!

Approximately 250 citizens from all over Vermont converged on the State House Thursday night to testify in front of the Senate Agriculture and Judiciary Committees in support of H.112. Reflecting the widespread support of the bill in Vermont, every single person testifying, about 80 people, spoke in support of labeling GMOs.
The message was clear and straightforward. “It’s about choice,” said testifier Nova Kim, “I and other Vermonters simply want to be able to choose.” This sentiment was echoed many times over throughout the night, with many others referencing the potential role of GMO crops in the increasing prevalence of food allergies and other health problems – a role we may never understand without proper labeling. “Is it GMOs [causing the problems] or is it not?” asked Kelly Cummings, “I want to know the answer to this question.”

Many other testifiers alluded to other products that have been historically touted as safe, then later found to have serious health implications – products like tobacco, asbestos, DDT, dioxin, and bovine growth hormones. Li Shen referenced several studies showing the impact GMO feed had on animals in controlled experiments, citing significant liver and pancreas damage. In addition to the human impact, several testifiers spoke to the environmental impact of GMO crops. Elizabeth Howard, for example, a scientist who studies monarch butterflies, noted the serious decline in the butterfly population due to increased spraying of Roundup on GMO crops in the mid-west. She wants to know what agricultural methods she’s supporting when she goes to the grocery store.

The trigger clause was on the minds of the people as well, with many testifiers saying the current bill was “too weak,” and that the trigger clause needed to go. Many said they did not want to wait for other states to decide if Vermont labeled GMOs. “Giving New Hampshire the power to determine whether the Vermont law goes into effect is unacceptable,” said Stuart Blood of Thetford Center, “I don’t have a representative in the New Hampshire House and I don’t have a New Hampshire Senator. What’s at stake is not just my right to know what’s in my food, but there’s also a question of whether I live in a democratic state.”

It was clear that for many citizens attending, the issue was as much one about democracy as it was about labeling. They called on the legislature to resist the threats of corporate interests, and instead protect the people. Michelle Robins of Williston reminded the Senators that Vermont was the first in the nation to “ban fracking, and to abolish slavery, to legalize gay marriage, and to label CFLs,” and urged the legislature to listen to their constituents and lead the nation on GMO labeling as well.
Emotions ran high in the State House last night, and people could barely contain their excitement and support after many testifiers spoke or sang. Midway through the event Shane Bowley and Janice Russotti brought their guitar up to the Senators and sang an original song about labeling GMOs (listen to the mp3 below!), a tribute to the late Pete Seeger and his faith that songs can change the world.

Thank you to everyone who came out and showed their support! Stay tuned for the next steps in this campaign – your continued activism is essential!

Ill-Fated Wind

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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!