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OCA and Advocacy Orgs Back Vermont in Suit against GMO Labeling

For related articles and information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page, Millions Against Monsanto page and our Vermont News page.

With the lines drawn over Vermont's recent passage of a GMO labeling law, two advocacy organizations have announced that they will file a motion to intervene in a lawsuit launched against Vermont by national food manufacturers.  A third has stated it will file an amicus curiae in support of the embattled state law. A motion to intervene is usually filed when an organization or person feels they would be affected by the suit, such as consumers, grocers and farmers in Vermont.

Paul Burns, executive director of Vermont Public Interest Group, said in an interview last week that VPIRG will be filing a motion to intervene in the lawsuit filed by the Grocery Manufacturers Association et al. With approximately 30,000 members, VPIRG is one of the largest consumer and environmental groups in the state.

"VPIRG was one of the groups that led the charge in passing the law, so naturally we have a strong interest in seeing it take effect," said Burns. "Our members are concerned about the possible health impacts of consuming GE foods, as well as a range of negative impacts on the environment linked to GE food production." Burns said that VPIRG expects to file the motion to intervene sometime this week.

VPIRG is a coalition partner of Vermont Right to Know, which represents more than 200 grocers, manufacturers and other interested parties across the state and worked to get the labeling law passed. It's also supported by a small but growing number of members from outside of Vermont.

"We're very interested in being as involved as we can be at every stage of the process to defend the law that we helped to pass," Burns said, noting that there are a number of other local and national organizations that have expressed interest in the motion.

One is the Organic Consumer Association, a national advocacy organization based in the heart of Minnesota's farming region. Katherine Paul, the organization's associate director, said that OCA has been a large supporter of the legislation.

"The Organic Consumers Association since just January of this year has invested over $250,000 in helping to pass the Vermont law," Paul said. "Some of that money was spent to help provide outside legal advice on the constitutionality of the law even before it was passed. And we will support any efforts undertaken to either intervene this law and/or fight it in the courts if we have to."

The Center for Food Safety declined to say whether it would be joining the motion. However, Senior Attorney George Kimbrell said that the center was committed to preserving Vermont's right to require labeling of foods made from genetically modified organisms.

"We at CFS vigorously supported Act 120 throughout its legislative process, as we have with GE food labeling laws across the country, for over a decade.  In 2013-14 alone, 70 GE labeling bills were introduced in 30 states," Kimbrell said.  "And that GE food labeling is central to CFS's fundamental mission to protect the public and the environment and provide transparency in our food system.  With regard to the litigation on Act 120, CFS remains fully committed to doing everything we can to help protect the important and legally sound law from the Big Food industry's baseless and irresponsible legal challenge."        
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