A first-of-its-kind law requiring foods sold in Vermont to declare whether or not they contain genetically modified crops is set to take effect on July 1st — unless a national law being considered by Congress passes first. The proposed national legislation would effectively override the regulations outlined by Vermont’s law, delaying any labeling changes for another two years and allowing food manufacturers to place QR codes or 800 numbers on their packaging rather than a plain-English disclosure about GM ingredients. Essentially, lawmakers are trying to pass a GMO labeling law that doesn’t require labels. Food Democracy Now is running a petition against the bill, which you can sign here.
Not only would this law make it more difficult to tell which foods contain GMOs, the new bill is entirely optional for the corporations it targets and there are no penalties for companies that fail to comply. The language of the bill has even been described as so vague that it would exempt about 85% of the GMOs currently on the market, including Roundup Ready crops owned by Monsanto, which are bred specifically to be sprayed with the weedkiller glyphosate, which has been linked to cancer by the World Health Organization.
The fact that Congress is attempting to override Vermont’s new law is troubling enough, but for many grassroots groups, what’s going on behind the scenes is even more disturbing. According to Food Democracy Now, major natural and organic companies have suddenly changed their tune and sided with the new bill rather than supporting Vermont’s much clearer requirements in a last-minute deal. Among those Food Democracy Now names as “selling out” are Whole Foods Market, Stonyfield Farm, and members of the Organic Trade Association.
Whether or not you personally believe GM crops pose a threat to human health, people who have concerns about how these plants are grown or the business practices of companies like Monsanto have the right to know what’s in their food and make purchasing decisions accordingly. A number of environmental groups around the country and Senator Bernie Sanders are rallying against this last-minute attempt to undermine Vermont’s lawmakers.
If you’d like to send a message to the US Senate protesting this legislative deal, sign the petition now.