Today, with Vermont’s groundbreaking GMO labeling requirements finally becoming law, we celebrate a victory that’s been years in the making. Thanks to local activists, a large grassroots coalition, and supporters from across the country, together we successfully pressured lawmakers in Vermont to pass legislation in 2014 requiring on-package labels for genetically engineered foods, a first step toward ensuring that people everywhere really know what’s in our food.
The law was always set to take effect on July 1, 2016, but we couldn’t take that for granted. For over a year, companies that profit from GMOs have lobbied to overturn and preempt Vermont’s law, and it’s a testament to the strength and dedication of our movement that we’ve held them back long enough to see GMO labels popping up not just in Vermont, but across the country. And we’ll continue fighting to make sure that right is protected – because if we aren’t vigilant, this victory will be short-lived.
Our opponents in this fight, like Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), are powerful enemies who have spent millions of dollars lobbying Congress to keep us in the dark about what’s in our food. But with over 90% of Americans supporting GMO labeling, Vermont’s law is a powerful demonstration that we can make our voices heard if we come together. And since just the beginning of 2016, we’ve accomplished so much, including:
- Over 200,000 supporters writing to their senators
- Over 12,000 supporters sending thank you messages to Sens. Stabenow, Casey, Bennet, Gillibrand, and the other Democrats on the Senate Ag Committee that voted the right way in committee
- Almost 5,000 supporters sent messages to senators who voted the wrong way in the Senate Ag Committee
- More than 10,000 supporters called Senate offices in DC
- Over 600 coalition groups have signed a letter to all senators in favor of GMO labeling
All the hours and effort our allies and supporters put into fighting for this law is truly impressive. And this victory is not just about securing our right to know what we’re eating—Vermont’s GMO labeling law is an affirmation that in a democracy, corporations don’t get to control our food, or our laws.
We can’t afford to become complacent, though. While today marks a huge step forward to our goal of a national on-package label requirement for genetically engineered foods, the Big Food industry is working hard right now to find a way to overturn this law. The DARK Act, which the Senate will be voting on next week, would replace the clear, on-package labels of Vermont’s bill with 800-numbers, QR codes and a voluntary labeling standard—amounting to no standard at all. Worst of all, it would preempt other states from passing their own legislation calling for mandatory labeling requirements.
We’ve already made our choice clear: we want GMO labeling, and nothing short of clear, on-package labels, like Vermont’s, will be acceptable. We need to keep fighting so that all Americans can finally know what’s really in their food.