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Vermont Legislator to Congress: “Protect Vermont’s Right to Know”

February 2nd, 2016
Center for Food Safety

WASHINGTON, DC--Tomorrow, a representative from the Vermont State legislature, along with allies at the national nonprofit Center for Food Safety, will head to Capitol Hill to speak with Congress about the importance of Vermont’s democratically passed genetically engineered food labeling law. Representative Teo Zagar voted in favor of Act 120, passed in May 2014, to protect Vermonters’ right to know what is in the food they eat and feed their families. He is traveling to Washington, D.C. to highlight the important role states play in meeting the needs of consumers and the precedent Act 120 sets for national, mandatory, on-package GE Food Labeling. In addition to meeting with his own Vermont representatives in the U.S. Congress, he will meet with many other states’ Representatives and Senators to encourage leadership on this issue and build support for the protection of Vermont’s law, which has been under attack by the biotechnology and food industries. 

"For me and my constituents this is simply a matter of freedom of information in a free marketplace. The people of Vermont and the nation as a whole are speaking loudly and clearly on this issue, and it's the responsibility of our representatives at the state and national levels to hear these voices and make the right choice," said Zagar.

With Vermont’s GE labeling law set to go into effect July 1 2016, big food and biotechnology interests have attempted to block its implementation, both through the courts and in Congress. The industry has sought action by Congress that would preempt states from passing GE labeling laws, while at the same time also blocking the ability of the Food and Drug Administration to requiring labeling at the federal level. Such a bill passed in the House of Representatives this summer and reports indicate that industry is seeking to get a similar bill introduced this month in the Senate.

“In the absence of federal leadership, states have led the way by passing legislation intended to prevent consumer deception and give consumers the right to know,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of Center for Food Safety. “It is vital that we stand up for states’ rights and protect the democratic process from interests that do not represent the will of the people.” 

Vermont’s law sets a high standard for mandatory, on-package GE food labeling. Yet rather than allow Vermonters to gain that information, USDA Secretary Vilsack, along with the food industry, is pushing to block state labeling in favor of voluntary disclosure through “QR Codes,” in which only those shoppers with smartphones would be able to access product information about GE foods. 

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