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Vermont May Be First State to Require Labeling of Genetically Modified Food

May 15, 2013
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Source: Mark Karlin, Truth Out

Although the Vermont House moved the legislation one step toward becoming law last week, the GMO industry is fighting it tooth and nail, threatening lawsuits right and left. As a recent Truthout article noted, "Monsanto Threatens to Sue Vermont Over GMO Labeling Bill."

The threat of legal action by multi-billion dollar corporations who are acquiring a monopoly on patented genetically modified food lets states like Vermont know that they will spend unlimited amounts of money on litigation, thus striking fear in state legislators who are worried about economically fragile budgets. As a May 13th Grist article quotes an NPR report:

No representatives on Thursday argued against the concept of more transparent food labeling. The most frequent point of opposition voiced on the floor concerned a likely lawsuit from the biotech or food industries that the Attorney General’s Office estimates could cost the state more than $5 million.

Grist comments on this argument in relation to a failed proposition in California:

A ballot initiative that would have required GMO labels in California was defeated last year after Monsanto and other corporations spent nearly $50 million on ads opposing it. A national GMO-labeling bill was introduced recently in Congress, but it has little to no chance of becoming law./Vermont House members caved a little in not requiring that milk or meat, for example, that come from animals who have been fed GMO's be labeled as a concession to the behemoth genetically modified food industry.  But it would require all food that contains GMO ingredients or is from a genetically engineered animal (salmon, for instance) be labeled as such.

So what would the Vermont bill accomplish?

Grist puts it succintly:

Most of the corn, soy, and sugar beets grown in the U.S. are genetically modified, and they’re widely used in processed foods. But shoppers who want to avoid them have no good way of doing so. Requiring food manufacturers to label genetically modified foods would allow people to say “no” to such products.

Transparency in knowing what we are eating: isn't it a basic right to be given full information on what we put into our bodies?  Monsanto and the other GMO giants are rightfully fearful that people will avoid genetically engineered food in large numbers and hurt their profits.  But health and personal choice come before hiding the truth, stock prices, share holder dividends and executive compensation.

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