Big Food Still Plans to Sue Vermont Over New GMO Labeling Law

Fuse/Thinkstock

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


Last month, when Vermont passed a new law requiring food and beverage manufacturers to label genetically modified foods, Big Food went ballistic. The Grocers’ Manufacturers’ Association, a trade group that represents Monsanto, General Mills, Coca-Cola, and other giant food companies, warned that the labeling law—the first of its kind in the nation—was “costly” and “critically flawed,” and vowed to sue the state to force it to scrap the measure.

At the heart of the debate is the question of whether states should be allowed to regulate food labeling. The GMA argues that any laws requiring manufacturers to label genetically modified food should come from the federal government—and only if the feds deem GM foods are a health risk. But Vermont lawmakers argue that the state should be able to move forward on its own. “We believe we have a right to know what’s in the food we buy,”  Peter Shumlin, the state’s Democratic governor, said in a statement last month.

The GMA insists that genetically modified foods are perfectly safe and pose no risks to human health: “They use less water and fewer pesticides, reduce crop prices by 15-30 percent and can help us feed a growing global population of seven billion people,” the group noted in a press release. But Vermont lawmakers maintain the new law is more about transparency than health, and that customers have a right to know whether genetically modified organisms are in their food. There’s popular support for that idea: 79 percent of Vermonters support labeling genetically modified food, according to a recent poll conducted by the Castleton Polling Institute for VTDigger, a Vermont media outlet.

That polling doesn’t seem to have affected the GMA’s position. The group hasn’t sued yet. But when I called to ask if the GMA still planned to sue Vermont, a GMA representative referred me to last month’s statement, which promises a lawsuit “in the coming weeks.” Get ready, Vermont—Big Food is coming for you.

LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

payment methods

LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate