For Immediate Release: Tuesday, July 9, 2013
BRATTLEBORO, VT— Today the Vermont Public Interest Research Group’s (VPIRG) summer citizen outreach team announced it has collected over 15,000 postcards in 10 weeks from Vermonters that support labeling GMOs. VPIRG hopes to add 3,000 citizens of Windham County to the growing list of activists who have urged their Senator to approve the labeling legislation that passed the Vermont House in May.
“In spite of opposition from the same special interests who spent over $45 million to defeat a similar labeling effort in California, the Vermont House became the first legislative body to pass a GMO labeling bill,” said Leah Marsters, VPIRG’s Canvass Campaign Director. “Passing our GMO labeling bill was the first domino—now Connecticut and Maine are following suit. That’s why we launched a campaign this summer to engage the overwhelming majority of Vermonters who support labeling GMOs, giving them easy ways of making their voices heard so that come January their Senators take action on the bill.”
VPIRG applauded Brattleboro’s Representative Tristan Toleno for his leadership on this issue. Representative Toleno and the Brattleboro Co-op welcomed the 60 grassroots canvassers who traveled to southern Vermont to camp out of Fort Dummer State Park for the week while reaching out to residents in towns across Windham County. The VPIRG citizen outreach team will knock on doors in every town in Vermont this summer to build support for labeling GMOs.
“This bill addresses legitimate concerns about GE foods,” said Representative Toleno. “I wholeheartedly support VPIRG’s work to educate Vermont citizens about the potential health and environmental risks from GE foods and our freedom to know and choose whether to buy them.”
“In knocking on doors with VPIRG, I have seen overwhelming support for this issue,” said Mel Katz, VPIRG’s Campaign Coordinator. “It is clear that Vermonters across the state want to know what’s in the food we eat. Whether it’s signing a postcard, or calling their legislator, thousands of Vermonters are making their voices heard.”
Vermont food cooperatives have also stepped up to call for labeling. “Regardless of how you feel about genetic engineering, this is simply a matter of public information,” emphasized Sabine Rhyne, Shareholder & Community Relations Manager at the Brattleboro Co-op. “It’s about enabling each individual consumer to choose products that are in line with their values, wherever they shop. Our shareholders and staff strongly support GMO labeling, and are anxious for the Senate to swiftly address the issue at the beginning of the new session.”