Vermont has always been on the forefront in the pursuit of freedom, independence and justice for its territory and its people. Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys fought for the sovereignty of their land against New York and then against the British Army in the Revolutionary War. Vermont was the first state to abolish slavery in its constitution (in 1777, even before it reached statehood) and also the first state to recognize civil unions and marriage equality.
And now, by an overwhelming majority, the Vermont House (114-30) and Senate (26-2) have passed a GMO labeling law that will be signed by Governor Peter Shumlin. This is the first GMO labeling law to pass in the U.S. without contingencies attached to it. Maine and Connecticut passed labeling laws in 2013 but both contain “trigger” clauses that require neighboring states to pass similar legislation before they can take effect. The idea behind this type of stipulation is to share the burden of expenses when Monsanto and the Biotech bullies sue the state(s). Vermont, with 90% of its people in favor of a GMO labeling law, has decided to play David to Monsanto’s Goliath and go toe to toe with the Biotech behemoth. A special fund has been set up to help defray the costs for Vermont’s legal defense against the inevitable lawsuits.
There are currently 64 countries with GMO labeling laws. The list includes Australia, Brazil, China, the European Union, India and Russia as well as smaller countries like Bolivia, Kenya and Thailand. Many of these countries are applying the Precautionary Principle, which states that when an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships have not yet been fully established scientifically. Unfortunately in the U.S., this policy is rejected by corporations and government regulators who prefer cost-benefit analyses with much lower standards. Environmental contaminants such as arsenic, DDT, nicotinoid , organophospate and methylcarbamate pesticides as well a myriad of other toxins were all approved using these substandard parameters.
Kudos to Vermont for passing a law as sweet as the syrup it is famous for. As Governor Shumlin said in a statement: “I am proud of Vermont for being the first state in the nation to ensure that Vermonters will know what is in their food. Vermont has led the local food movement that is better connecting people nationwide with the food they eat.”