There's Going to be a Food Fight

June 11, 2014

After having been vastly overspent and narrowly defeated in California and Washington State, in the effort to win mandatory labeling of GMO food, our own small state of Vermont showed the rest of the country how you get stuff done.

With much fanfare under sunny skies on the statehouse steps in Montpelier, Governor Peter Shumlin signed into law the nation’s first “no strings attached” GMO labeling bill.  That means that, unlike legislation passed in Connecticut and Maine, Vermont will begin requiring the labeling of all processed foods that contain GMO ingredients sold at retail in July, 2016, regardless of whether other states pass similar legislation.  

It doesn’t come as a big surprise to us that Vermont was the first state to make real headway towards mandatory GMO labeling. As a Vermont-based food company, there is one thing we know and it’s that Vermonters take their food very seriously.  Many of us buy directly from farms, or we shop at farmers markets and support local growers and producers through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares. In fact, Vermont has more farmers markets and CSAs per capita than any other state. That's not just because we love kale.  It's because we love food and we want to know where it comes from, we want to know the people who grow it and we want to how it was grown.  Simply put, Vermonters want their food purchases to reflect their values.  We’d like to think that’s why Vermont embraced Ben & Jerry’s from the very beginning, and that's why Vermont is the first state to pass mandatory GMO labeling.  

That’s the good news.  The bad news is that those who have spent millions and millions of dollars to defeat mandatory GMO labeling in California, Washington State and here in Vermont are going to file a lawsuit to try and stop what they couldn’t through the democratic process.  And while the opponents of transparency and honesty in food may have lots of money, we have lots and lots and lots of people.  93% of Americans support GMO labeling.  The state of Vermont has set up a crowd funded legal fund to defend our state from the powerful corporate interests that are seeking to undermine our victory in Vermont. It’s appropriately called, The Vermont Food Fight Fund.  If all of us who support consumers’ right to know gave $1 to the Vermont Food Fight Fund, we’d show other states that democracy can’t be bought by a handful of powerful corporations.  And that will make Vermont not the end of a hard fought campaign to win labeling, but the beginning of a grassroots effort demanding a more transparent and sustainable food system.  What do you say? You in?