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Love Vermont, Hate Monsanto

Though extreme, this cartoon pretty accurately depicts the potential impact of the 'right to know' bill.

In the newest genetically modified (GM) food labeling efforts, the Vermont legislature is considering a bill requiring that foods containing genetically modified ingredients be labeled as such.  This bill has the support of the people, of many legislators, of small farmers and food activists nationwide.  But, expectedly, there is a lot of opposition from agri-business giant, Monsanto.  In fact, Monsanto is threatening to sue the state of Vermont if the bill is passed.

Monsanto’s power and money have a very strong voice in Washington and in many states, particularly in the Midwest, where their GMO corn (among other crops) is planted as far as the eye can see.  Their quiet integration of GM crops has gone unregulated for years now (to their satisfaction).  Yet, quick review of their website’s ‘who we are’ section listed integrity (including honesty) and transparency as being at the core of their values.  To me, it seems that their fight against Vermont directly violates their pledge.

To truly be honest and transparent would be to fully disclose their practices.  By adamantly opposing accurate labeling, Monsanto is taking a public stand against their “core values”.  If the bill is passed and Monsanto sues, then I sympathize with Vermont, because I would be intimidated and scared to take on a multi-million dollar corporation like Monsanto, too!

So, this bill has been dubbed a “right to know” bill, meaning that people have a right to know what’s in their food.  Not only do I feel strongly about wanting to know what’s in my food, but I also feel strongly that I don’t want to be duped by misleading words or phrases.  And, in fact, Californians feel the same way.  The California Right To Know Act is a citizens’ initiative that would require GMO labeling and ban the use of the term ‘natural’ on GMO-containing foods.  If they obtain enough support (850,000 signatures) the Act may be on the 2012 ballot.

Let’s hope that the legislators in Vermont are ready to take on the multi-million dollar giant, and that this bill gets passed.  Though I wouldn’t benefit from the outcome, this is a very logical step in improving our food system and informing consumers.  Vermont activists are taking action on April 12th.  To find out how you can get involved, check out the campaign website here.

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