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Vt. Rally Pushes for GMO Labeling Law

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

At a rally Thursday in Montpelier, several dozen demonstrators called on the state Senate to pass a bill requiring labels on foods that contain ingredients with altered DNA. Most processed foods contain ingredients that had their DNA manipulated in a lab. The biotech industry insists these foods are completely safe to eat, but the activists at the rally were not buying that.

"We're targeting everybody," said Andrea Stander, the executive director of the group Rural Vermont, which advocates for a self-reliant food system and support for farmers who protect the earth. "We're targeting everybody because, I don't know about you, but I haven't met anybody yet who doesn't eat. And this is about people's food, and something that everybody does a couple of times a day, at least."

Stander is worried about genetically-modified organisms, or GMOs. Many crops, like corn and soybeans, had their DNA manipulated to boost yields for farmers or efficiency for food producers. Most food labels do not reflect that change.

The Food and Drug Administration regulates GMOs. The World Health Organization says no ill effects on human health from GMOs have been shown.

Many remain deeply skeptical. Vt. state Sen. David Zuckerman, P-Chittenden County, told participants at the rally he is focused on ensuring a labeling law passes this session. "We don't want to be the guinea pigs, or continue to be guinea pigs. We want to have choice," said Zuckerman, who is also a farmer.

Like Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, are also considering labeling laws. The states of Maine and Connecticut have already passed laws requiring foods containing GMOs be labeled. However, the Vermont activists alleged those two states' laws are not really laws, because they don't actually take effect until a certain number of other states also pass labeling laws.

Zuckerman said he wants to see a GMO labeling bill that does not have a clause requiring other states to also pass laws. He acknowledged convincing some colleagues in the state Senate to take the leap will be a challenge.  
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