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Vermont Governor: Tell Us What’s in our Food

Submitted by Food Democracy Now on March 11, 2016 - 9:51pm

By: Peter Shumlin

I proudly signed a law requiring GMO labeling in our state starting this July 1.

People have the right to know what is in their food. It’s not a radical idea. We already require food companies to label nutritional values such as calories or sugar content and to include an ingredient list. When it comes to labeling genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food, more than 64 countries already require it.

American consumers are demanding GMO labeling. In the past decade, countless ballot measures and 70 bills have been introduced in over 30 states to require labeling. In response, companies such as Campbell’s Soup and General Mills, with its Cheeriosbrand, have voluntarily labeled their products. As those companies are showing, it is not beyond the moral imagination of U.S. companies to follow the lead of most of the rest of the industrialized world and label GMOs.

The federal government should respond to widespread consumer demand and create a nationwide GMO labeling standard. But it hasn’t. Instead, Congress has spent the past few years shutting down the government and trying to repeal Obamacare more than 60 times. The institution is so broken, it cannot even summon the courage to fulfill its constitutional responsibility for vetting a Supreme Court justice.

In the face of that gridlock, Vermont acted to ensure this important consumer right being demanded by our citizens. In 2014, the legislature passed, and I proudly signed, a law requiring GMO labeling in our state starting this July 1.

Swiftly, the food industry, led by Monsanto, sued Vermont. Our state won an initial victory in court when it was ruled our law could be implemented as planned on July 1. So Monsanto and their allies turned to a reliable ally: Congress, which is considering legislation to block Vermont from implementing its law.

The irony, of course, is that a Congress that can’t do anything might finally do something. That’s what years of campaign contributions from the food industry will get you. Vermont is simply trying to ensure that our citizens have the right to know what is in the food we buy. If Congress doesn’t want to act, that’s one thing. But it should not drag states down by denying us the ability to inform citizens where Congress won’t.

Peter Shumlin, a Democrat, is governor of Vermont.

Originally Published: USA Today

 

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