About the VT Right to Know GMOs Campaign
We All Have a Right to Know What’s in Our Food
Consumers have a right to know what’s in the food we eat and feed our children, including whether food is genetically engineered. We all should be able to make informed choices, and have the ability to choose whether to buy genetically engineered food or not.
We Currently Eat Genetically Engineered Food, But We Don’t Know It
A genetically engineered food is a plant or meat product that has had its DNA artificially altered by the inclusion of genes from other plants, animals, viruses, or bacteria, in order to produce foreign compounds in that food. This type of genetic alteration is not found in nature. Today, the majority of corn and soybeans grown in the U.S. is genetically engineered to produce pesticides and/or withstand high doses of weed killer. Much of our sugar also comes from GE plants. Ingredients made from these crops are found in countless packaged foods such as cereals, baby foods, breads, chips, and many other products. And new GE ingredients and foods are being developed and marketed all the time, for example a new variety of GE sweet corn is now being marketed, and GE salmon is currently being considered for approval by the FDA.
Without proper labeling we have no way of knowing if the food we buy has been produced using genetic engineering.
The Risk of Genetically Engineered Foods
Unlike the strict safety evaluations required for the approval of new drugs, the safety of genetically engineered foods for human consumption is not adequately tested. A growing number of studies indicate that genetically engineered foods may contain novel toxins, allergens, and other substances that can present real risks to our health. Labeling of GE foods will make it possible to identify and track any adverse health reactions that may occur as a result of consuming GE foods.
Much of the World Already Requires Labeling for Genetically Engineered Foods
More than 60 countries including the European Union, Japan and China already label genetically engineered foods. Vermont should be the leader on this important issue here in the United States.
Lessons of 2012
Last year, we spearheaded a bill that passed through the House Agriculture Committee with a 9-1 vote in favor. This bill, the Vermont Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act, would have required food sold in retail outlets such as grocery stores (not including restaurants) to be labeled if produced with genetically engineered ingredients. In addition to this disclosure, genetically engineered foods would have been prohibited from being advertised as ‘natural.’ Unfortunately, the bill didn’t have time to make it all the way through legislature.
2013: A Better, Stronger Bill
Although last year’s bill didn’t pass, it did provide us with valuable lessons and momentum that gave us a strong position from which to launch the 2013 Right to Know campaign. Working with the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic at Vermont Law School, we’ve revised and strengthened the bill. With a new bill and a support base that grows every day, we were able to pass H.112 through the House of Representatives. This was the furthest any such legislation had advanced anywhere in the US, which gives us a great opportunity to pass the bill through the Senate in 2014. We will continue to work with activists and legislators to show the broad public support for this bill so that Vermont can be the first state where consumers will see labels on GMO foods.
More Information for Consumers
We didn’t used to label foods with calorie, nutritional value, or allergen information, but we do now, and most consumers use this information every day to make informed choices in the supermarket. Our bill simply requires food producers to identify foods which have been genetically engineered on the label.
Little to No Cost to Consumers or Food Producers
This year’s proposed legislation is intended to have little to no cost impact on consumers or food producers. It simply requires that foods produced with genetically engineered ingredients be disclosed on food packaging or labels on store shelves for genetically engineered foods.
How You Can Help
In order to pass this legislation, we need the help and support of all Vermonters. Sign our petition to get involved and learn more about the campaign. Then, contact your legislators and make sure they know where you stand and write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. If you want to do more, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more ideas.