Tag Archives: #vtrighttoknow

DARK Act Passes House, Puts Blinders on Our Right to Know

by Maddie Monty, Policy Advisor, NOFA Vermont

On July 23rd, the House of Representatives passed bill H.R. 1599 by a margin of 275 to 150. This bill, backed primarily by House Republicans, has been given two names. Cleverly branded by its sponsors as the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, the bill has instead become widely known to the national Food Movement as the Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act.

Despite its benevolent title, farmer and consumer groups have seen the DARK Act for what it is: a direct attack on mandatory GMO labeling laws passed by Vermont, Connecticut, and Maine in recent years and an effort to undermine consumers’ demand for information about the food they eat.

Stop the DARK Act!
Cleverly branded by its sponsors as the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, the bill has instead become widely known to the national Food Movement as the Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act.

While much of the House testimony in favor of the Act referenced the need for a national labeling standard, the DARK Act would in fact do just the opposite.  By prohibiting FDA from ever requiring the labeling of GMO foods, the Act would codify the current federal policy of voluntary labeling: a policy that has been in place for 14 years, during which time not one food manufacturer has ever chosen to label their products as containing GMOs.

If passed by the Senate and signed into law, the DARK Act would not only prohibit FDA from requiring GMO labeling, it would also nullify Vermont’s labeling law slated to go into effect in July 2016. The bill would allow the use of misleading “natural” claims on GMO products to continue, while limiting the ability of states and localities to regulate GMOs in ways that safeguard farmers and consumers.

One thing proponents of the DARK Act can’t deny is widespread citizen support for mandatory GMO labeling. In recent years, a multitude of national polls (conducted by ABC News, Consumer Reports, the Washington Post, Reuters/NPR, the New York Times, and others) have repeatedly found that over 90% of Americans want GMO foods to be labeled.

While biotechnology companies and junk food manufacturers have long seen GMO labels as a skull and crossbones, a UVM study recently found that GMO labels do not serve as a warning label to consumers. Under Vermont’s labeling law, manufacturers will simply be required to disclose on the package and in plain language whether their product was made with genetic engineering. In fact, labeling GMOs is something these same companies are already doing in 64 other countries around the world, which begs the question: why not here?

Unfortunately, the list of corporations and interest groups backing the DARK Act is a lengthy and well-funded one. It includes companies like ConAgra Foods, Dow AgroSciences, PepsiCo and Monsanto. Political contribution reports clearly show that the deep pockets of Big Food were brought to bear in passing H.R. 1599. House members who voted in favor of the DARK Act received an average of $70,426 per vote from interest groups and industry, with some individual members receiving as much as $500,000 from the bill’s supporters.

The bill will now head to the Senate for consideration following the August recess. While the DARK Act is expected to receive substantially less support in the Senate as compared to the House, only time will tell whether Big Food can successfully force-feed this legislation to our Congress and our citizens. While the Obama administration has been largely silent on the issue up to this point, one thing is certain: if the DARK Act ever makes it to the President’s desk, he is sure to get an earful.

Citations:

National GMO Labeling Polls: http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/issues/976/ge-food-labeling/us-polls-on-ge-food-labeling

Contributions to House members supporting/opposing HR 1599: http://maplight.org/us-congress/bill/114-hr-1599/7104271/contributions-by-vote.table

Free Press article on UVM study: http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/news/local/2015/07/28/uvm-study-gmo-labeling-may-matter/30801741/

Act Now on Act 120! Attorney General’s Office Seeks Public Input on GMO Labeling

Vermont Right to Know! Label GMOs

It’s time once again to raise your voice about labeling GMOs in Vermont. The second and final public hearing on the proposed rules for enforcing Act 120, Vermont’s GMO labeling law, will be held this Wednesday, February 4th from 5-6pm in room 10 at the State House in Montpelier. The Attorney General’s Office has been tasked with developing the rules for how the law will be implemented, and they want to hear from you. The AG’s proposed rules provide details on the scope and requirements of the law, including the specific conditions for labeling, penalties for non-compliance, and exemptions for certain foods or businesses.

Read the Attorney General’s proposed rule (pdf) »

We hope to see you at the hearing on Wednesday, but if you can’t make it in person, you can also submit formal comments on the proposed rule to the Attorney General at any time until February 12, 2015, either through the Secretary of State’s website, or by sending an email to ago.gefoodlabelingrule@state.vt.us. To learn more about Act 120, you can visit the Attorney General’s GE Food Labeling page.

While the Attorney General’s Office moves forward with the rulemaking process, the state continues to fight a legal battle to ensure that corporate interests don’t keep Vermonters from your right to know about GMOs. Get the latest update on GMA v. Sorrell, the case against Vermont’s GMO labeling law, from VT Right to Know GMOs.

Be sure to stay tuned for updates from NOFA-VT and the rest of the VT Right to Know GMOs team.

Dr. Vandana Shiva to Speak in VT

vandana_graphic_v5We are thrilled to be welcoming Dr. Vandana Shiva to Vermont for two speaking engagements next week in support of VT’s GMO labeling law.

Her presentation is titled: Food System Transformation and Reversing the Climate Crisis: How Vermont’s GMO labeling law is part of the solution.

Dr. Shiva will speak on Sunday, November 2, 2014, 4:00-6:00PM at the Contois Auditorium in Burlington’s City Hall, 149 Church Street.  This event will be livestreamed at this link beginning at 3:55.

Dr. Shiva will also speak at the Vermont Law School on Monday Nov. 3 at 5:00PM in the Chase Center. This event is sponsored by the VLS Center for Agriculture and Food Systems.

Both events are open to the public, and donations will be welcomed to support the ongoing work of the Vermont Right to Know GMOs Coalition to implement and defend Vermont’s GMO food labeling law. Dr. Shiva’s visit to Vermont is being facilitated and co-sponsored by the Vermont Right to Know GMOs Coalition which is a partnership of Cedar Circle Farm & Education Center, NOFA-VT, Rural Vermont and VPIRG.

Vermont Senate Approves GMO Labeling Bill by a vote of 28-2 !!!

On April 16th the Vermont Senate voted 28-2 in favor of H.112, which would require the labeling of foods made with genetic engineering. This brings Vermont very close to final passage and enactment of the nation’s first GMO labeling law that does not include a multi-state “trigger, which would require indefinite postponement of its implementation.  

To visibly demonstrate to Governor Shumlin how important it is for him to sign the bill into law, the Coalition is calling for “honk and wave” events next Tuesday, April 22 (Earth Day) during morning “drive time” — not just in Vermont but all across the country. Our national partners and supporters are helping to organize this.

Use this online tool to set up and share your local honk and wave! Continue reading Vermont Senate Approves GMO Labeling Bill by a vote of 28-2 !!!

GMO Bill Moves Forward!

Special update from NOFA’s policy advisor, Dave Rogers! Vermont Right to Know! Label GMOs

At 11am today, the VT Senate Judiciary Committee, after several weeks of work, voted 5-0 in favor of our GMO labeling bill. The bill contains no triggers and establishes a special $1.5M fund to cover implementation and legal costs, if necessary. Funds would come from Attorney General office proceeds from other cases and unrestricted donations from individuals, organizations, etc, both instate and out of state.

After a quick trip to the Senate Appropriation Committee to set up the fund, it will move to the Senate floor where it is expected to pass. Timing is uncertain but could be quite soon. Then it will go to the House for either approval of the Senate bill, or to a conference committee to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions.

Then it will go on to the Governor’s desk.  Just before the Judiciary committee voted, one member, a Republican  whose vote was uncertain until the end, said, “Vermont is about to go where no state has gone before.”

So, we are all  quite pleased, but as we know, it ain’t over ’til it’s over! This is a great time to get in touch with your senators and let them know that you expect them to help pass this historic legislation.

Visit the Vermont Right to Know GMOs website to learn more and get involved.