The Nation’s First GMO Labeling Law
Since we published “GMO’s Are Everywhere,” there’s been significant, national GMO news. On April 23, the Vermont legislature gave final approval to a bill that would make Vermont the first state to enact mandatory ingredient labeling of GMO’s. On May 8, Governor Peter Shumlin signed the bill into law. In addition to labeling requirements, this bill would also make it illegal to describe any product containing GMO’s as natural.
Meanwhile, GMO developers and representatives of the packaged U.S. food industry (primarily the Grocery Manufacturers Association) have been discussing suing the State of Vermont as well as pushing for a bill in the U.S. Congress that would nullify current state laws and prohibit any further labeling laws from being passed.
It’s Official. They’re Suing.
As of this morning (May 16), Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) have made it official by announcing they intend to sue. Early legal opinions are favoring Vermont’s ability to withstand the challenge, especially considering they anticipated the suit and have a substantial legal fund in place.
The GMO industry will also have to present arguments that address the central issue of the consumer’s right to know, not just raise their marketing claims to legal standing. They’ll have to convince a court that a company’s ability to make a profit supersedes consumers’ desire to look out for their health and their children’s futures. They’ll have to argue that consumers don’t have the right to know what’s in the products they buy. And they’ll have to do it publicly, out in the open.
More Industry News
The GMA remains in the news for a previous political involvement. In October 2013 they were sued by the Washington State Attorney General and forced to reveal the names of large contributors to the defeat of Washington’s November 2013 labeling initiative. Prior to the suit, these names had been illegally hidden. Companies whose names were revealed – Coca-Cola, Pepsi, General Foods, and Nestle – appear to have been trying to avoid the kind of public backlash and boycotts that followed the defeat of a similar initiative in California. Non-GMO organizations point to the GMA’s illegal behavior as further evidence of the need for government, not industry, regulation.
These Two Issues Aren’t Going Away
Every day we see confirmation of the two issues that are central to the GMO debate: the public’s right to know and the inability to trust the industry producing GMO’s and the products that contain them. At Botanie Soap, our commitment to organic certification – stressing the integrity of our processes and the transparency of our ingredients – puts us squarely on the side of the public’s right to know. Coincidentally, integrity and transparency are also at the heart of consumers being able to trust what they buy. When an industry regulates itself, the only interests it serves are its own. On the other hand, when you play by independently established rules, everybody wins.
For more on the Vermont GMO labeling bill: http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/news/politics/2014/04/27/gmo-labeling-came-pass-vermont/8166519/ http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2014/04/29/how-vermont-plans-to-defend-the-nations-first-gmo-law/
For more on the illegally hidden contributors in the Anti-I 522 campaign in Washington:http://www.oregonlive.com/mapes/index.ssf/2013/10/grocery_manufacturers_disclose.html