Preface by Cathy Geibel TLB staff writer/reporter
Betrayal!! Not just on a Federal level but more importantly on the STATE level. A state has the RIGHT…. no… the OBLIGATION to serve the people of the state BEFORE the Feds. It is called State’s Rights. But instead the “governing” body of Vermont chose to back down? I smell something rotten here. Backing away from CLEAR and informative labeling and instead allowing that poor excuse of a compromise only accessible by smart phones called a “digital QR code” is a slap in the face to the voters of Vermont. AND the Federal law does not even go into effect for another two years! The people of Vermont need to rise up! And we in the rest of the country can support them by continuing to do what we do… speak up and buy only Organic and Non-GMO foods. (CG)
By Julie Wilson
Vermont announced on Tuesday that it is no longer enforcing GMO-labeling following the passing of a federal law that gives food companies the option to disclose the controversial ingredients through digital, off-package labeling. Vermont said mandatory labeling in the state will stop immediately despite the fact that the new federal law will not go into effect for two years.
The news serves as a detrimental blow to consumers and health food advocates who fought tooth and nail for the right to know whether their food has been genetically altered with another organism’s DNA.
In 2014, Vermont became the first state to enact GMO-labeling. Though victorious, the achievement was short-lived. The legislation requiring companies to disclose GMOs on food package labels went into effect July 1, 2016, before being repealed just one month later.
Vermont was the first state in the nation to enact GMO-labeling
The Grocery Manufacturers Association, a front group for Big Food, fought hard to destroy the law, filing a lawsuit in federal court challenging it as unconstitutional. However, the suit is now irrelevant and will likely be thrown out.
Some say Vermont’s implementation of GMO-labeling was the catalyst for the federal government to quickly outlaw true labeling before other states followed suit. Dozens of states were considering GMO-labeling proposals, while others such as Maine and Connecticut had actually passed such measures.
Vermont’s Attorney General, William H. Sorrell, said that although GMO-labeling is no longer mandatory, he hopes companies will continue to disclose the controversial ingredients.
“We successfully defended our law for two years, and as a result many companies are now disclosing that their products are produced with genetic engineering,” said Sorrell.
“We hope they will continue to do so going forward, not because our law requires it, but because it is the right thing to do.”
Corporate interests ‘watered’ down Vermont’s clear labeling law
The AG expressed disappointment over the fact that Big Food clearly influenced the legislation passed at the federal level.
“It is unfortunate that corporate interests were ultimately able to water down Vermont’s clear disclosure standard through the passage of this federal law.”
Sorrell said that Vermont plans to stay involved in the process of GMO-labeling. “My office intends to take an active role as the labeling fight shifts from the legislative process in Congress to the regulatory process at the USDA.”
The federal law, drafted by Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and ranking Democrat Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, allows food companies to disclose GMO ingredients through digital QR codes accessed by a smartphone.
The law is seriously flawed for two reasons. Firstly, most consumers do not have the time or desire to scan food packages with their smartphones to try and decipher which ingredients are GMO. This is impractical for even health conscious consumers eager to know if their food is genetically modified.
Secondly, the percentage of GMOs in a food product that qualifies for QR code labeling will be decided by the future USDA Secretary. The person in this position is almost always (no matter which party is elected president) supportive of the chemical and agriculture industry.
In other words, they will have little incentive to label GMOs transparently.
Survey shows Americans unlikely to check QR codes for GMOs
As predicted, a recent poll found that most Americans are “highly unlikely” to use their smartphones to determine whether a food product has GMO ingredients.
Out of the approximately 1,000 adults surveyed, 21 percent said it is “not too likely” that they would check QR codes with their smartphones, while 38 percent said it’s “not likely at all.”
Thirty-one percent of surveyors also said that if they could see clearly that the food contained GMOs, they would be “much less likely” to buy it.
Big Food of course knows this, which is why they fought so hard to squash genuine GMO-labeling.
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