Yesterday afternoon I got an email from my friends at the Pesticide Action Network with the best piece of GMO-labeling news yet – Congress in the state of Vermont passed the very first GMO-labeling bill with no strings attached!
If you’re wondering why I used the words “with no strings attached”, there is a specific reason.
This is because Maine and Connecticut previously passed their own GMO-labeling bills but each of those had trigger clauses. So, they won’t go into effect unless other neighboring states pass their own laws as well.
With the Vermont bill, there is no trigger clause, which is very significant, and the start date of this GMO-labeling policy will be July 1, 2016.
NOT A DONE DEAL…..YET
While some people may believe that Vermont has already passed a GMO-labeling bill, that is not entirely correct.
The bill still must be signed by Governor Peter Shumlin, which he is expected to do. If he doesn’t sign it within the next five days, the bill will go into effect.
If the opposition somehow gets him to change his mind and he vetoes the bill, both the state House and Senate will need to override his veto with a 2/3rds majority. (Here’s a flow chart on that decision-making process).
WHERE ARE WE NOW?
Here are the key points to understand in terms of where we are now.
* Without question, the opposition (Monsanto, Big Ag, and the Grocery Manufacturers Association) will sue the state of Vermont to overturn this bill, assuming that it becomes law.
In anticipation of this lawsuit, the state has set aside a small fund to pay for litigation costs.
* There are approximately two dozen other states that are trying to pass their own GMO-labeling bills. While there is much work to be done, new developments in two key states, New York and California, took place very recently.
* For the opposition, it has now gotten very serious. Why?
Assuming the Vermont law goes through, for the first time ever there is a hard deadline (July 1, 2016) for GMO-labeling in at least one state.
If you combine this with (1) the progress that other states are making, and (2) the fact that Vermont’s bill also makes it illegal to describe any food product containing GMOs as “natural” or “all natural”, relying on the state-level strategy for the opposition has started to fail.
THE OMINOUS ALTERNATIVES
That is why the opposition will dramatically ramp up the pressure against GMO-labeling on the federal and international level, places where they can use their influence out of the public eye. Since time is now against them, their lobbying will become even more aggressive and potent.
In the U.S., the vehicle that the opposition will use is something ironically called the “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act”. Organic advocates more truthfully refer to it as the “Deny Americans the Right-to-Know Act (DARK Act)”. (For more details about the DARK Act, please see my post about it from the other day.)
This shameful piece of legislation would:
* Prevent states from adopting their own GE-labeling laws.
* Block any attempt by states to make it illegal for food companies to put a “natural” label on products that contain genetically-engineered ingredients.
* Prevent the Food and Drug Administration from requiring companies to label genetically-engineered ingredients and instead continue a failed “voluntary” labeling policy.
If you haven’t done so already, please contact your elected politicians in Washington D.C. and demand that they reject the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act – HR 4432.
You can do so by:
1) Calling them directly.
Click HERE to find your Senators.
Click HERE to find your Representatives.
2) Sign e-petitions.
For the Center for Food Safety, click HERE.
For the Just Label It campaign, click HERE.
On the international level, the opposition will now purse with even greater vigor two secret trade agreements called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Not surprisingly, President Obama is seeking fast-track approval for both of these, thereby preventing Congress and the public from thoroughly assessing the agreements and expressing concerns.
Among other things, the TPP would prevent countries from labeling GMOs and the TTIP would lessen the EU’s existing GMO laws.
Additionally, the TPP would allow a corporation to sue federal, state and local governments if it believes that a law or regulation will negatively impact its bottom line. How insane is that!
Click HERE to read GMO Inside’s excellent synopsis of both the TPP and TTIP.
Click HERE to sign Food & Water Watch’s e-petition against the TPP.
Needless to say, this fight is entering a very critical stage, and the opposition will do anything it can to prevent American consumers from knowing what is in their food.
I have no doubt that we can make GMO-labeling a reality, but it will require the participation of every single one of us. Please share this article with your network, and thank you so very much for your continued support.
Before I go, I want to give a huge shout-out to the citizens of Vermont. Awesome job, and we are all very grateful!!!