Category Archive: News & Updates

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GMO Labeling Bill Passes House!

Today the House of Representatives passed H.112 , this year’s GMO labeling law, by a vote of 99-42! This is the furthest any such legislation has made it through the legislative process in the US. It was clear that hearing from Vermonters like you that gave them the courage to lead the nation on this important issue. Continue reading

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GMO Labeling Bill Passes First House Vote

Today the Vermont House of Representatives voted 107-37 to bring H.112, this year’s labeling law to a final vote tomorrow. If the bill passes it will be sent to the Senate where they will begin work on the bill in January, and it would be the first piece of comprehensive GMO labeling legislation passed by a state house of representatives.

Some of the strongest voices of support for the bill came from members of the House Agriculture and Judiciary Committees. Reps. Zagar, Teleno, Michelsen, and Bartholomew explained important aspects of the bill and the many studies that compelled the Agriculture Committee to pass the bill earlier this session.

Judiciary Chair Rep. Bill Lippert spoke about Vermont’s established history of leading the nation on important issues saying,  “When we passed civil unions, we were told that Vermont would be boycotted and that our tourism industry would die. When we passed mercury-labeling requirements, we were told that fluorescent light bulbs would no longer light the rooms of Vermont . . . Now, we are told if we pass GE labeling we will face losing our boxes of corn flakes. … Vermont should move forward, and lead the nation once again. I vote yes, once again, without fear.”

A rigorous debate is expected on the House floor for the final vote tomorrow, keep checking in with us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest on the campaign.

GMO Labeling Bill Passed by House Judiciary!

Today the House Judiciary Committee voted 7-4 to pass H.112, the Vermont GMO labeling bill. The bill will now go to the full House of Representatives where a full vote is expected later this week. If the bill passes out of committee it will be the furthest a comprehensive GMO labeling bill has advanced in any state legislature. With the legislature slated to end their session later this week the bill will be in a great position to be taken up in the Senate when lawmakers return to their work in January. Please take a moment to contact your Representative(s) and urge them to pass H.112 this session! Continue reading

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Vermont Co-ops Unanimously Support GMO Labeling Legislation

Today, representatives from co-ops across the state of Vermont gathered at the Hunger Mountain Co-op in Montpelier to announce their unified support for GMO labeling legislation currently under consideration in the State House. The co-ops are joined by 6,811 Vermonters and 175 farms and businesses from across the state who have signed on in support the VT Right to Know GMOs campaign.

“We feel that it is time to require GMO labeling in Vermont” stated Hunger Mountain Coop General Manager Kari Bradley. “Regardless of how one feels about GMOs, consumers have a fundamental right to know what is in their food.”

“These co-ops are the heart beat of their communities and to have their unanimous support says a lot about the growing demand for common sense labeling,” said Falko Schilling, Consumer Protection Advocate at Vermont Public Interest Research Group. “Many consumers are concerned about these products for a number of reasons and they want the ability to make informed decisions about what they are buying. Without labels, it is extremely difficult for retailers to give their customers definitive answers about if their food has been genetically engineered.”

Annie Gaillard of Buffalo Mountain Co-op said “The customers that come into our store can pick up a package and tell if it is gluten free, low fat, low salt, whether it contains nuts, if it is organic. Right now they cannot find out if it has genetically modified ingredients in it. When I try to research a company’s GMO policy, I am often told ‘we don’t knowingly use GMO ingredients.’ Does that mean that if they don’t ask, then they don’t know, so they are not accountable? If genetically modified organisms are so great, they should be proud to have it on their label, just like a company is proud to say they ate gluten free, or organic. Why are they trying to hide it?”

Allison Weinhagen of City Market also discussed the difficulty of letting consumers know if their food contains GMOs saying, “City Market fundamentally believes in our members’ and consumers’ right to make educated choices about what they put into their bodies and into their children’s bodies. We share information about a variety of topics at the Co-op, including our dairy products, meat choices, and bulk items; we’re not able to offer an appropriate level of information on GMO in foods because these products are generally not labeled. As a Co-op, we operate to serve the needs of our members; in a recent survey of our members and customers, an overwhelming 95% favored GMO labeling.”

Enid Wonnacott, Executive Director of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont spoke about the work being done in the legislature on this issue saying “The health and environmental risks of GE are poorly understood and poorly regulated, yet non-GE labeled food products are among the fastest growing products in the food marketplace. The VT House Agriculture Committee, after weeks of testimony and investigation, came to the same conclusion. That’s why the majority of Vermonters want these products labeled and expect the legislature to do the right thing.”

H.112, the bill that would require labeling of genetically engineered foods sold in Vermont, is currently in the House Judiciary Committee where testimony is scheduled to begin this Thursday. Earlier this session the House Agriculture Committee approved the bill with a vote of 8-3.

The GMO bill has been scheduled!

BREAKING NEWS!

House Judiciary Committee Chairman, Bill Lippert, notified the leaders of the VT Right to Know Coalition late Friday afternoon that the GMO Labeling Bill, H.112, will be introduced to his Committee on Thurs. April 18 at 8:30 AM. The Committee will begin its work on the bill by hearing from Legislative Counsel, Mike O’Grady who drafted the bill and Assistant Attorney General Bridget Asay regarding the legal issues of the bill.

After passing through the House Agriculture Committee with a 8-3 vote, H.112 stalled in the Judiciary committee for almost a month before representatives under pressure from their constituents scheduled the bill for a hearing. The Committee will now hear testimony regarding the legal issues associated with the bill, working to make it as strong as possible in the event of a lawsuit.

Once the Judiciary Committee is satisfied with the bill’s legal strengths, it will likely go to the House Floor for a full House vote. As the bill moves towards a full vote, it’s increasingly important to restart the conversation around GMO labeling in Vermont, so we’re asking our supporters to write letters to the editors of their local newspapers, explaining their own personal viewpoint on why GE labeling is a good move for Vermont. Check out our letter-writing guide here: http://bit.ly/GMOsLTEs

Vermont Companies start the discussion on a GE-labeled marketplace

On Wednesday, April 3rd, Ben & Jerry’s hosted a workshop for Vermont’s specialty food producers to share the experience of their transition source only non-GMO ingredients across all of their products. Ben & Jerry’s staff from sourcing and R&D talked through the process of re-formulating flavors and what it takes to source non-GMO ingredients. Chris Miller from Ben & Jerry’s said, “as we move through our transition, we will end up sourcing only non-GMO ingredients across all of our products, and we will do it without raising the cost of a pint or eroding the products’ margins”.

The event was well attended, with roughly 40 representatives from 18 different companies in attendance, as representatives from Ben & Jerry’s outlined their process for finding non-GE sources for some of their ingredients that currently rely on GE foodstuffs. In reformulating, Ben & Jerry’s hopes to provide a good example of transparency in the food system, expanding their consumer base in the process.

Still, they expect to see very little negative impact on their profit margins. One of the major points of the presentation was the potential benefits of a Vermont marketplace in which GE foods are labeled. Ben & Jerry’s is optimistic that labeling GE foods will lead many companies to reformulate their products, driving demand for non-GE crops and strengthening Vermont’s natural foods brand.

VTRTK announces two new Grassroots Action Forums

It’s time to ramp up the grassroots action! Let’s show our legislature and our Governor that there has never been a better to time to stand up for Vermont and protect the interests of its citizens. Let’s make 2013 the year we pass a GMO labeling law in Vermont!

Last month, VT Right to Know visited White River Junction, Brattleboro, Montpelier, Middlebury, and Burlington to speak to crowds of concerned citizens about GMO Labeling. Almost 6000 Vermonters have signed the petition to require labels on GMO’s and hundreds have contacted their legislators. The Vermont food coops, Ben & Jerry’s, VBSR, Lake Champlain chocolates, and a growing list of specialty food producers and grocers have announced their support of the campaign.

To find out more, join VT Right to Know for a second round of forums across the state. Speakers will provide information about the issue of GE labeling, updates on the legislative process, avenues for citizen activism, and, of course, GE-free refreshments. Sign up for the forum closest to you here: http://bit.ly/GMOActionMTG

Bennington
March 27, Wednesday, 6:30-8:30
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
108 School Street
Sponsors: Spice -n- Nice Natural Foods

St. Johnsbury
March 28, Thursday, 6:30-8:30
St. Johnsbury House
1207 Main St # 101
Sponsors: St. Johnsbury Food Coop, Natural Provisions Market

Questions? Contact Cat Buxton at the Cedar Circle Farm – 802-359-3330 cat@cedarcirclefarm.org

The VT Right to Know Coalition responds to Shumlin’s concerns about H.112

Last week, Governor Shumlin made the news with some remarks about his concerns around H.112, this year’s GMO-labeling legislation. In particular, he was concerned with the potential for a lawsuit by out-of-state interests once the bill is passed.

In a recent Times Argus opinion piece, Right to Know advocates Andrea Stander, Dave Rogers, and Falko Schilling set the record straight, clarifying some of the finer points of the legislation. In particular, the article emphasizes the hard work done by Vermont’s House Agriculture Committee in refining the legal findings of the bill and the differences between this year’s bill and the 1994 legislation on milk that caused much of the confusion. Read the article here.

GMOs are in your news!

Since last week, when the House Agriculture Committee passed H.112 for GMO-labeling with an 8-3 vote, GMOs have been a hot topic in Vermont news. As the movement continues to get more and more press, it’s important to make sure we hear from the people this bill affects …you! Read what they’re saying, then write a letter to the editor in response to make sure your voice is being heard, too.

This week we also heard some very exciting news on the national front. Whole Foods Markets announced that ALL genetically engineered products in their stores will be labeled by 2018. This is a win for consumers and it shows the growing power that grassroots campaigns like ours are having across the country.

Of course, not all news is good news. Last week, Governor Shumlin gave us his take on GMO labeling in Vermont. In response we heard loud and clear from a number of Vermonters that the Governor needs to support the legislature’s efforts to pass mandatory GMO labeling. Here are a couple of responses published last week.

It’s up to us to show Governor Shumlin that we can win this! Learn more about the case that’s confusing our legislators, then send in a letter to the editor. It’s time for Vermont to take a stand against biotech bullying!

VT H.112 gets ready for a vote in the House Agriculture Committee.

Today, the House Agriculture Committee spent the morning reviewing and modifying the language of H.112 which would require labels on genetically engineered foods sold in Vermont. After weeks of testimony the committee has begun the process of incorporating all the information they have gathered into this year’s bill.

The major issue still up for debate this afternoon is when the bill would go into effect. Last year, similar legislation passed out of the committee with the requirement that it would not go in to effect until labeling legislation was passed in California and two northeastern states. We are actively advocating that no such provision be included in this years bill. We believe that Vermonters’ Right to Know should not be contingent on the actions of other states.

The committee will continue its deliberations this afternoon and the bill is slated for a full committee vote either today or tomorrow. Stay tuned for more updates, and make sure to join us at our grassroots action forums in Middlebury and Burlington tonight for a full rundown of the day’s events.