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OPEN LETTER TO ‘ORGANIC ELITE’ REQUESTING THEY SEVER TIES WITH TRADE ASSOCIATIONS THAT ARE SUING VERMONT OVER GMO LABELING LAWS AND SUPPORTING A BILL TO PREEMPT STATE GMO LABELING LAWS
Sent via electronic mail
Marc Peperzak, CEO, Aurora Organic Dairy
Scott McGinty, President, Aurora Organic Dairy
George Siemon, CEO, Organic Valley
Gary Hirshberg, Chairman, Stonyfield Farm
Gregg Engles, Chairman & CEO, White Wave
We are writing on behalf of our members and millions of concerned Americans to ask that you take a stand for consumers by immediately withdrawing your company’s membership from the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and/or the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA).
U.S. consumers have been engaged in a long and costly battle with corporations, trade associations and lobbying groups for the right to know whether or not their food has been genetically engineered. It is bad enough that the GMA and its corporate members have spent millions to defeat state laws and citizens’ initiatives that would require mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods and foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Now, the GMA, joined by the IDFA, wants Congress and/or the federal courts to deny states the basic right to pass GMO labeling laws, supported by the overwhelming majority of their residents.
In May (2014), the state of Vermont, after carefully considering testimony presented by scientists, consumers and legal experts, passed H.112 (Act 120), a law mandating that genetically engineered foods be labeled. In a direct hit on consumers’ rights, and on the democratic process, the GMA and the IDFA have filed suit against Vermont to overturn the law.
In addition, both the GMA and the IDFA are lobbying for an outrageous anti-consumer bill, introduced in April (2014) in Congress, that would preempt all state GMO labeling laws, and make it legal to use the word “natural” on products that contain GMOs. The bill is deceptively called the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014.
Regardless of any statements your company has made in support of GMO labeling laws, through your membership in these associations your company is financially supporting an attack on states’ rights to pass laws intended to protect the health of citizens and their environment, and on consumers’ right to know if their food contains GMOs.
Last year, the OCA called on Weil Lifestyle LLC to withdraw from the GMA, because while the company stated on its website that it supported GMO labeling laws, its membership in the GMA said otherwise. In response to our request, Weil Lifestyle said this in a statement:
You might have seen that the Organic Consumers Association has called attention to the policy of the Grocery Manufacturers' Association (GMA) against mandatory GMO labeling on foods. While Weil Lifestyle has been a general member of GMA, we are not aligned on the labeling issue. Therefore, we have ended our membership.
As a leader in the organic industry, we call on your company to follow the lead of Weil Lifestyle, and side with consumers on GMO labeling. We ask that you send a strong message to the GMA and IDFA that you will no longer support any organization that opposes consumers’ right to know, and specifically, that you will not support their lawsuit against Vermont, and their bill in Congress.
If your company continues to support the GMA and/or IDFA, consumers will have no choice but to seek out alternative brands sold by companies that are on the right side of the GMO labeling issue.
National Director, Organic Consumers Association
Will Allen, Co-Director, Cedar Circle Farm (Vermont)
Paul Burns, Executive Director, Vermont Public Interest Research Group
Gretchen DuBeau, Executive and Legal Director, Alliance for Natural Health USA
Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food & Water Watch
Dave Murphy, Founder, Food Democracy Now!
John Roulac, GMO Inside
Steve Rye, CEO, Mercola Health Resources, LLC
Andrea Stander, Executive Director, Rural Vermont