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Organic Consumers Association Statement on Starbucks Participation in Grocery Manufacturers Association’s GMO Labeling Lawsuit against Vermont

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 25, 2014

CONTACT: Katherine Paul, 207.653.3090, Organic Consumers Association

FINLAND, Minn. –  The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) has called on Starbucks to withdraw from the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), an industry lobbying group that is suing Vermont to overturn the state’s GMO labeling law, and is behind H.R. 4432, a federal bill to preempt states’ rights to pass laws requiring the labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMO) in food ingredients.

Starbucks responded to petitions by OCA and others, and to a blog post by Neil Young, with this statement: "Starbucks is not a part of any lawsuit pertaining to GMO labeling nor have we provided funding for any campaign. And Starbucks is not aligned with Monsanto to stop food labeling or block Vermont State law.”

The GMA also responded, stating: "Neither Starbucks nor Monsanto is participating in our lawsuit to overturn Vermont's GMO labeling law."

Ronnie Cummins, international director of the OCA and its Mexico affiliate, Via Organica, issued the following statement today:

“Claims by Starbucks and the GMA that Starbucks is not a part of the GMA’s lawsuit against Vermont, or the GMA’s efforts to pass a federal law preempting states from passing GMO labeling laws, ring hollow with consumers who are fighting for a right that consumers in 64 other countries already have.

“Corporations join lobbying groups like the GMA so they can maintain a consumer-friendly image while the lobbying group does the dirty work for them. When Washington State sued the GMA for money laundering, the GMA defended its creation of the ‘Defense of Brand Strategic Account’ to ‘better shield individual companies from attack,’ by claiming that the lobbying group speaks ‘with one voice’ for its members.

“A statement by GMA President and CEO Pamela Bailey, on the GMA website, says: ‘From rapidly changing consumer preferences to the public policy arena, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) is uniquely positioned to bring the industry together, as one voice, to lead and to address those issues that no one company can solve alone.’

“Monsanto (also a member of the GMA) and the GMA have successfully blocked GMO labeling legislation in over 30 states, at a price tag of more than $100 million. Where did the GMA get this money? From its 300+ members, which include Starbucks (and other popular consumer brands).

“Starbucks is not a member of the International Dairy Federation of America (IDFA), also a party to the lawsuit against Vermont. However, by refusing to use sustainable, organic milk in its products, the coffee giant also, albeit indirectly, supports the IDFA.

“Consumers are fed up with corporate public relations schemes intended to portray companies like Starbucks as ‘caring’ about consumers, while at the same time, behind consumers’ backs, those companies support multi-billion dollar lobbying groups that pressure the courts and federal legislators to enact anti-consumer policies. It’s time for Starbucks to come clean, by withdrawing from the GMA and switching to organic milk, or consumers will kick them to the curb.”

More info

H.R. 4432, a federal bill to preempt states’ rights to pass GMO labeling laws

H.112, Vermont’s GMO labeling law

Lawsuit filed by the Grocery Manufacturers Association against Vermont

Lawsuit filed against the GMA for money laundering in Washington State
The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is an online and grassroots non-profit 501(c)3 public interest organization campaigning for health, justice, and sustainability. The Organic Consumers Fund is a 501(c)4 allied organization of the Organic Consumers Association, focused on grassroots lobbying and legislative action.