It did not take long for the corporate food bullies to put profits before people’s health. On June 12th, Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) filed a lawsuit in federal U.S. District Court, State of Vermont, to overturn Vermont’s recently passed Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) labeling law.
The GMA is a “who’s who” of some of the most powerful food corporations known for abusing consumers’ trust and serving up some of the worst health-damaging “manufactured food” found in grocery stores. Some of the key members of the GMA include well-known brand names like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, The Hershey Company, General Mills, Unilever, Kraft Foods, Del Monte Foods and the H.J Heinz Company, as well as agri-food/GMO giants Monsanto, Cargill and ConAgra.
According to the Organic Consumers Association, years of good old-fashioned work, and playing by the rules helped the grassroots labeling movement achieve its first real victory this year, when Vermont passed the first no-strings-attached law requiring mandatory labeling of foods containing GMOs. Every citizen deserves the right to know what he or she is eating. Every state deserves the right to protect its residents and its environment without being threatened by multi-billion dollar corporations.
The danger in this lawsuit extends far beyond the beautiful state of Vermont. Even though state regulators are confident that their labeling law is just and will hold up in court, you cannot underestimate the sphere of influence and deep pockets of the GMA and its members. A loss to these corporations would jeopardize similar GMO labeling legislation in 29 other U.S. states. This may be the goal of the GMA: to intimidate law makers and citizens who believe people should have freedom of choice when it comes to the food they eat and how it is made.
Even people who advocate for genetically-modified organisms in food or remain ambivalent to the whole GMO issue should be concerned about this lawsuit. Labeling food with its true ingredients should not be a problem when there is nothing to hide. The GMA’s lawsuit is another alarming example of the erosion of rights and freedoms at the state and citizen level. As a consumer, it is your right to know what companies are passing off as food and you should be free to expect this basic protection from your regulators and law makers. Vermont’s GMO labeling bill is not treading on the individual rights of Americans, it is upholding them.
The Organic Consumers Association is collaborating with the State of Vermont, raising funds and working to protect the rights of consumers in Vermont and other states that face corporate intimidation as they move forward with GMO labeling bills. Let the GMA know what you think of their lawsuit and ask them why they are suing a state that believes in freedom of information so that its citizens can make informed choices about what they eat. When it comes to your food and the integrity of the food system, there is no room for corporate bullying.
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