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Organic Consumers Association Statement on GMO Labeling Law Victory in Vermont

Organic Consumers Association Statement on GMO Labeling Law Victory in Vermont

INLAND, Minn. – Today, by a vote of 28-2, the Vermont state Senate passed H.112,
a bill to require mandatory labeling of foods sold in Vermont that
contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The bill also makes it
illegal to call any food product containing GMOs “natural” or “all
natural.” Unlike bills passed last year in Maine and Connecticut, which
require four or five other states to pass GMO labeling laws before they
can be enacted, Vermont’s law contains no “trigger” clauses, making it
the first “clean” GMO labeling law in the country.

Ronnie Cummins, national director of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), issued the following statement:  "Today’s victory in Vermont has been 20 years in the making. Ever since
genetically modified crops and foods entered the U.S. food supply in the
early 1990s, without adequate independent pre-market safety testing and
without labels, U.S. consumers have fought to require the labeling of
foods containing GMOs.

Consumer demand for mandatory labeling of GMOs spawned a national
grassroots movement that has persevered despite hundreds of millions of
dollars spent by the biotech and food industries to lobby state
lawmakers in Vermont, and to fund anti-labeling campaigns in California
(2012) and Washington State (2013).

Today, consumers and a number of principled legislators in Vermont made
it clear to Monsanto, Coca-Cola and other opponents of consumers’ right
to know: We will not back down. This movement is here to stay

We expect that Monsanto will sue the state of Vermont in order to
prevent enactment of H.112. We also expect that Monsanto will lose, and
the law will go into effect on schedule, on July 1, 2016.

We expect that the Grocery Manufacturers Association, a multi-billion
lobbying group representing more than 300 food, pesticide and drug
makers, will try to pass their “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014,”
introduced last week by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), intended to strip
Vermont, and all other states, of their right to pass GMO labeling laws.
And we expect that Congress will not pass this law, dubbed the DARK
(Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act, which seeks to deny consumers
the right to know if their food has been genetically engineered, and
deny states the right to enact laws designed to protect public health.

Vermont’s landmark victory today will force food companies to either
label GMOs in all states, or reformulate their products to be GMO-free
in order to avoid stating “this product was produced using genetic
engineering” on their packaging. When Oregon passes a citizens’ ballot
initiative to label GMOs in November, as we believe it will, the biotech
and food industries will have lost, beyond the shadow of a doubt, their
battle to keep consumers in the dark.

The OCA has worked closely over the past several years with the
pro-labeling grassroots movement in Vermont. Today we congratulate
Vermont activists for their passionate pursuit of this law, Vermont
lawmakers for having the courage to pass the law, and Vermont citizens
for being the first in the country to have the benefit of GMO labels on
their food. And we reaffirm our commitment to work with Oregon and other
states to pass similar laws, and to fight any and all attempts by
industry and/or Congress to overturn these laws.

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