Category Archive: Uncategorized

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Neil Young pledges $100,000 to help Vermont Label GMOs

When Neil Young’s Rebel Content Tour came to Vermont they wanted to do more than just rock, they wanted to make sure Vermonters will know if their food is genetically engineered. In a backstage pre-show press conference Young joined Governor Peter Shumlin to promote Vermont’s GMO Food Labeling law and pledged $100,000 to the VT Food Fight Fund to support the law’s implementation and defense.

In 2014 Vermont passed the first in the nation no-strings-attached GMO labeling law and was almost immediately sued by a consortium of corporate special interests. Neil Young, a big supporter of consumers’ right to know, then announced that he would be boycotting Starbucks because of their membership in the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the lead trade group suing the state.

In a Rolling Stone interview Young was quoted saying, “There’s much more at stake here than just whether GMO foods will be labeled in a single U.S. state. Vermont is the very first state in the U.S. to require labeling. Dozens of other states have said that they will follow this path – in order to encourage this, we need to ensure that Vermont’s law stands strong.”

Young threw even more support behind Vermont’s labeling effort in a song on his new album The Monsanto Years titled “A Rock Star Bucks A Coffee Shop.” In the song, Young talks about Starbucks and the VT lawsuit singing, “When the people of Vermont wanted to label food with GMOs/They sued the state of Vermont to overturn the people’s will.”

When Young arrived in Vermont he coordinated with the governor and members of the Vermont Right to Know Coalition to set up a special press conference before he took to the stage. Governor
Shumlin thanked the thousands who had helped pass the labeling law before appealing for support for the state’s efforts to defend the law.

When Young took the podium he spoke simply saying, “I’m just a rocker who believes people should know what they’re eating.” He then pledged $100,000 from the profits of his Vermont show to the Food Fight Fund, which supports the defense and implementation of Vermont’s labeling law.

Later in the evening the concert audience erupted with cheers and applause when Young shouted from the stage “Vermont — standing up where other states are laying down.” The set then continued with energized renditions of selections from his full catalog as well as The Monsanto Years. The evening was capped with a special rendition of “Moonlight in Vermont” performed by Lukas Nelson, son of Willie Nelson.

Vermont continues its legal battle as it prepares to respond to the industrial food manufacturers’ legal strategy to stop the labeling law from going in to place. Make sure to check back for the latest on the campaign, and please join Neil in donating to the Food Fight Fund by clicking here.

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Public Hearing on GMO Labeling Rules Feb. 4th

We have hit an important step in the process of labeling genetically engineered foods in Vermont. On Wednesday, February 4th from 5:00-6:00pm at the State House in Montpelier, the Attorney General’s Office will hold the final public hearing on the proposed rules for enforcing Vermont’s GMO labeling law.

The Attorney General’s Office has been charged with proposing how the law will be implemented, and they want to hear your thoughts. This is your chance to comment in person, but if you cannot make it you can read the rule and send in your comments electronically.

The rule provides more details about how Vermont’s law will take effect, including the size and placement of the labels. Take a few minutes to read the rule, and if you have thoughts come out to the public hearing February 4th, or use our handy web form send in your comments.

We are still in the middle of the legal battle to make sure that corporate interests don’t stop the state from giving consumers the information they deserve. We will keep you updated as we learn more about the case, but in the meantime you can have your say and help the state move forward towards labeling GMO foods.

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Vermont Right to Know Goes to Washington

On Wednesday December 10th approximately 700 protesters from 22 states descended on Washington D.C. to protest a hearing on HR.4432 otherwise known as the DARK Act (Denying American’s Right to Know Act). The Act aims to preempt and overturn Vermont’s first in the nation GMO labeling law without creating a national mandatory labeling standard. On hand at the rally were members of the Vermont Right to Know Leadership team Will Allen and Cat Buxton, as well as Rep. Kate Webb, one of the lead sponsors of Vermont’s labeling law. Despite waiting for hours to enter the hearing room the protesters were turned away when the chambers were filled. The crowd then moved to rally on the lawn of the Rayburn office building.

Will Allen, manager of Cedar Circle Farm in East Thetford spoke at the rally, and commented afterward saying “There were people here from all over the country, two buses came from Michigan, there were also people from Indiana, Florida and Maine. Everyone who spoke was so eloquent and passionate about their right to know what is in their food. I was really impressed by Jonathan Emord, who spoke fervently about the Pompeo bill being an assault on states’ rights and the fundamental right of people to know what is in the food they are eating.” Emord, a nationally known attorney, who specializes in Constitutional issues, provided written testimony to the Vermont Legislature supporting the legal standing of the Vermont labeling law.

Inside the hearing room Rep. Webb testified on behalf of Vermonters and the state’s labeling law. Rep. Webb said, “I was asked a number of questions by members of the Sub-Committee about Vermont’s GMO Food Labeling bill that primarily focused on the provision that prohibits the use of the term “natural” in the labeling of foods that are genetically engineered. Because the sub-committee’s focus is on health they didn’t address the broad issues of environmental impacts and concerns of religious groups that VT’s bill covers.” Rep. Webb reported that she also met with Congressman Welch and with staff from Senator Leahy’s office while in DC. All of Vermont’s federal delegation is strongly supportive of states’ rights to require labeling of GMO food and they are co-sponsors of federal legislation to require mandatory labeling. Rep. Webb said, “There is some hope among the Vermont delegation that the Pompeo bill, the ‘DARK Act,’ will not get to see the light of day.”

 

Help stop the dark act

Help Stop the DARK Act

Our elected officials in Washington are all strong supporters of a consumer’s right to know what is in their food. We need them to help us defeat HR.4432, otherwise known as the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act. The Act would wipe out Vermont’s first in the nation GMO labeling law, and prohibit any mandatory labeling of GMO foods in the US. This bill is a direct attack on the Vermont and our citizens who have clearly stated that we have the right to know what is in the food we eat and feed our families.

The U.S. House of Representatives will be holding hearings on the DARK Act on December 10th, and we want to you let our elected officials know that they have our support in fighting for a consumer’s right to know.

Call our elected officials on December 10th at the numbers below and tell them “Thank you for being a strong supporter of mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods. Right now the House of Representatives is debating HR.4432, a bill that would eliminate Vermont’s GMO labeling law. I ask you do everything in your power to make sure that this bill is not passed, and to protect Vermonters’ ability to make informed decisions about the food they eat and fee their families.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders
202-224-5141

Sen. Patrick Leahy
202-224-4242

Rep. Peter Welch
202-225-4115

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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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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.

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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!

Dr. Vandana Shiva

Dr. Vandana Shiva to Speak in Favor of VT’s GMO Law

*Update: Update: If you would like to watch a recording of Dr. Shiva’s talk from Nov. 2nd in Burlington click here! (note this is an unedited recording of the live stream so the presentation starts at approximately 14:00 on the video counter)

Dr. Vandana Shiva, the internationally recognized scientist and activist will visit Vermont on November 2nd and 3rd for two public speaking engagements. Dr. Shiva will speak in support of Vermont’s first-in-the nation, “no strings attached” GMO food labeling law. Her presentation is titled: Food System Transformation and Reversing the Climate Crisis: How Vermont’s GMO labeling law is part of the solution.

Dr. Shiva will speak on Sunday, November 2, 2014, 4:00-6:00PM at the Contois Auditorium in Burlington’s City Hall, 149 Church Street.*

Dr. Shiva will also speak at the Vermont Law School on Monday Nov. 3 at 5:00PM in the Chase Center. This event is sponsored by the VLS Center for Agriculture and Food Systems.

Both events are open to the public, and donations will be welcomed to support the on-going work of the Vermont Right to Know GMOs Coalition to implement and defend Vermont’s GMO food labeling law.
Dr. Shiva’s visit to Vermont is being facilitated and co-sponsored by the Vermont Right to Know GMOs Coalition which is a partnership of Cedar Circle Farm & Education Center, NOFA-VT, Rural Vermont and VPIRG.

To join the Facebook event for the November 2nd event in Burlington click here.

To join the Facebook event for the November 3rd event in South Royalton click here.

*Programs and activities held in facilities of the City of Burlington are accessible to people with disabilities. For information or to request accommodations, call (802) 865-7019 or (802) 253-0195 VT Relay Service.

VPIRG hosted a GMO Labeling Campaign event at the Vermont State House Thursday advocating a strong GMO labeling bill be passed through the state Senate in the 2014 legislative session.

Your Right to Know is Under Attack

On Thursday June 12 the Grocery Manufacturers Association and their allies filed a lawsuit to stop Vermont from being the first state in the nation to require labels on GMO foods. This is a direct assault on Vermonters’ right to know what is in their food. This news is upsetting but not unexpected, and as we speak the State and members of the Vermont Right to Know GMOs coalition are working to mount a strong defense of the law. Vermont has written a strong and constitutional law, and with your help we can make sure we see labels on GMO foods.

The VT Right to Know Coalition will be joining Ben and Jerry’s and the Governor to rally at the Ben and Jerry’s scoop shop on Church Street in Burlington on Monday the 16th at 2:00 in support of our GMO labeling law and the Food Fight Fund! Come out bring your friends and a homemade sign, and show the GMA we aren’t afraid of their strong arm tactics. This will be a great chance to show your support, and we hope you will join us.

Hope to see you ¬¬Monday at 2:00 on Church Street in Burlington for the rally, and if you can’t come please make a donation in any amount to the Food Fight Fund to support your right to know!

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Rule making period has begun; public input sought

The Attorney General has begun the process of drafting rules that will facilitate implementation of the newly signed VT GMO labeling law. Over the next several weeks, the Attorney General will begin soliciting input from the public and those who will be affected by the rules, including food processors, grocers and other retailers, the agricultural community, and consumers!

For more information on how to submit your input, check out the Attorney General’s GE Food Labeling Rule page.