Friday, April 20, 2012
Things are heating up on the genetic engineering front in the state of Vermont, where an overwhelming 96 percent of Vermonters vehemently support “right to know” legislation that mandates full disclosure of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) on food labels. But according to Ronnie Cummins from the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), Monsanto is now threatening to sue the state of Vermont should it dare to pass such legislation, which has stalled it in committee.
H.722, also known as the Vermont Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act, would require any food product that contains GMOs to be labeled as such. It would also prohibit GMO-containing foods from being labeled “all natural” or “naturally grown,” which is quite common today, including even on some food products sold at health food grocers.
If passed, H.722 will make Vermont the first U.S. state to take a stand for transparency in food labeling, which will set a precedent for the other 49 states to mimic. And since numerous polls have showed that the vast majority of Americans from all states are in favor of GMO labeling, it will only be a matter of time before every state legislature is forced to come to terms with the GMO issue, or at least address it.
“H.722 is a simple but powerful bill — it will give all Vermonters the right to know if their food has been genetically engineered,” said Andrea Stander, Executive Director of Rural Vermont, about the bill. “Whether their need to know is based on health concerns such as new allergens, religious beliefs, or concerns for the impacts the production of genetically engineered food crops are having on farmers and the environment, a huge majority of Vermonters are demanding the right to know what’s in their food.”
Monsanto bullies Vermont with threats of legal action if it passes GMO labeling bill
But with GMO labeling comes widespread awareness about the presence of untested, unsafe ingredients throughout the food supply, which is sure to turn most people away from buying or eating them. At least 70 percent of the “inner aisle” food supply, or packaged, processed foods found in the center aisles at the grocery store, now contain GM ingredients.
Monsanto knows that if GMOs are labeled, its business would quickly crumble. So to stop this from happening, the biotechnology giant has reportedly resorted to bullying the Vermont House Agriculture Committee (VHAC), which just so happens to support GMO labeling by a 6 – 5 majority, into stonewalling until the legislature adjourns for the year at the end of April.
According to OCA, VHAC members are thus far refusing to take a vote on the bill, even after a recent hearing in which hundreds of farmers and members of the public testified as to the need for GMO labeling. It appears as though they will continue to hold hearings on the bill until the legislative session ends, which will force H.722 into hibernation, or even kill it altogether.
Since this important issue affects us all, it is vitally important that the VHAC vote to pass H.722 as soon as possible. Along with California, Washington, and several other states that also have their own GMO labeling bills moving through the legislative process, Vermont has the chance to lead the way in deconstructing Monsanto’s “Frankenfood” monopoly, and restore freedom of food choice for all Americans.
So will the state’s legislators have the courage to actually follow through with passing it, or will they cave to pressures from the most evil company in the world?
Sources for this article include: