Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Vermont Passes First No-Strings-Attached GE Food Labeling Bill

Food
Vermont Passes First No-Strings-Attached GE Food Labeling Bill

Today, Center for Food Safety (CFS) celebrated an historic achievement in Vermont—passage of the first no strings attached bill requiring the labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods. The occasion marks an important day both for the food movement, with its many activists and partners, and for Center for Food Safety, which has been involved in the push for GE labeling for over a decade.

Center for Food Safety celebrates years of work as Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) signs landmark GE labeling bill into law. Photo credit: Center for Food Safety

“To the people, legislators, and activists of Vermont, thank you for your tireless efforts in advancing the people’s right to know. Center for Food Safety is extremely proud to have worked alongside so many fearless advocates over the past ten years,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director for CFS.

The fight for legislation to require the labeling of genetically engineered foods has been fought on multiple fronts. CFS has led the federal rulemaking process since 2011, when it submitted a legal petition to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) providing a blueprint for the agency to enact a federal rule under authority granted by the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. That petition is supported by more than 650 organizations and business, and more than 1.4 million people have since submitted comments in support.

While no action has been taken at the federal level, numerous states, bolstered by the legal and scientific expertise of CFS, have introduced legislation or ballot initiatives of their own. Connecticut and Maine each successfully passed GE labeling laws, though they are contingent on other regional states to also pass laws before they would go into effect. The Vermont bill is the first GE labeling law to pass without such a trigger.

“Center for Food Safety is committed to pursuing mandatory GE labeling across the country until every American is assured the right to know what is in their food,” said Kimbrell. “Transparency in a sector that is integral to our lives every single day is absolutely essential.”

CFS has provided legal expertise to numerous states pursuing mandatory GE labeling, and continues to offer expert testimony at legislative hearings across the country, including New York, Massachusetts, California and Oregon. CFS closely monitors both the state level and global landscape on GE labeling. There are currently 64 countries with labeling laws and more than 60 state bills were introduced over the past year.

Just today, it was announced by the Oregon Supreme Court that it has certified a proposed 2014 ballot initiative on GE labeling, allowing the signature gathering process to begin in advance of November elections.

With the success of Vermont, eyes now turn back to Washington, DC, where Center for Food Safety has been a vocal proponent of the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act (H.R. 1699/S. 809) introduced last year by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA). This common sense bill directs FDA to use its authority to enact a federal, mandatory GE labeling policy that would guarantee all Americans the right to know.

Standing in the way of that right is a bill introduced by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), with the backing of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which has been dubbed “Denying Americans the Right-to-Know” (DARK) Act and would block any federal or state action to require the labeling of GE foods. Center for Food Safety is working with allies in Washington to ensure this bill does not allow the interests of Big Food and the chemical industry to trump the rights of Vermonters or Americans nationwide.

——–

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Maine Governor Signs GMO Food Labeling Bill

‘Big Food’ Ready for Costly Battle as States Consider GMO Labeling Bills

Colorado Supreme Court Overturns ‘Big Food’ Challenge, Keeps GMO Labeling Bill Alive

——–

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A resident works in the vegetable garden of the Favela Nova Esperanca – a "green favela" which reuses everything and is subject to the ethics of permaculture – in the outskirts of Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Feb. 14, 2020. NELSON ALMEIDA / AFP via Getty Images

Farmers are the stewards of our planet's precious soil, one of the least understood and untapped defenses against climate change. Because of its massive potential to store carbon and foundational role in growing our food supply, soil makes farming a solution for both climate change and food security.

Read More Show Less
Once the virus escapes into the air inside a building, you have two options: bring in fresh air from outside or remove the virus from the air inside the building. Halfpoint Images / Getty Images

By Shelly Miller

The vast majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs indoors, most of it from the inhalation of airborne particles that contain the coronavirus. The best way to prevent the virus from spreading in a home or business would be to simply keep infected people away. But this is hard to do when an estimated 40% of cases are asymptomatic and asymptomatic people can still spread the coronavirus to others.

Read More Show Less
California Senator Kamala Harris endorses Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden at a campaign rally at Renaissance High School in Detroit, Michigan on March 9, 2020. JEFF KOWALSKY / AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden made a historic announcement Tuesday when he named California Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate in the 2020 presidential election.

Read More Show Less
An aerial view taken on August 8, 2020 shows a large patch of leaked oil from the MV Wakashio off the coast of Mauritius. STRINGER / AFP / Getty Images

The tiny island nation of Mauritius, known for its turquoise waters, vibrant corals and diverse ecosystem, is in the midst of an environmental catastrophe after a Japanese cargo ship struck a reef off the country's coast two weeks ago. That ship, which is still intact, has since leaked more than 1,000 metric tons of oil into the Indian Ocean. Now, a greater threat looms, as a growing crack in the ship's hull might cause the ship to split in two and release the rest of the ship's oil into the water, NPR reported.

On Friday, Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth declared a state of environmental emergency.

France has sent a military aircraft carrying pollution control equipment from the nearby island of Reunion to help mitigate the disaster. Additionally, Japan has sent a six-member team to assist as well, the BBC reported.

The teams are working to pump out the remaining oil from the ship, which was believed to be carrying 4,000 metric tons of fuel.

"We are expecting the worst," Mauritian Wildlife Foundation manager Jean Hugues Gardenne said on Monday, The Weather Channel reported. "The ship is showing really big, big cracks. We believe it will break into two at any time, at the maximum within two days. So much oil remains in the ship, so the disaster could become much worse. It's important to remove as much oil as possible. Helicopters are taking out the fuel little by little, ton by ton."

Sunil Dowarkasing, a former strategist for Greenpeace International and former member of parliament in Mauritius, told CNN that the ship contains three oil tanks. The one that ruptured has stopped leaking oil, giving disaster crews time to use a tanker and salvage teams to remove oil from the other two tanks before the ship splits.

By the end of Tuesday, the crew had removed over 1,000 metric tons of oil from the ship, NPR reported, leaving about 1,800 metric tons of oil and diesel, according to the company that owns the ship. So far the frantic efforts are paying off. Earlier today, a local police chief told BBC that there were still 700 metric tons aboard the ship.

The oil spill has already killed marine animals and turned the turquoise water black. It's also threatening the long-term viability of the country's coral reefs, lagoons and shoreline, NBC News reported.

"We are starting to see dead fish. We are starting to see animals like crabs covered in oil, we are starting to see seabirds covered in oil, including some which could not be rescued," said Vikash Tatayah, conservation director at Mauritius Wildlife Foundation, according to The Weather Channel.

While the Mauritian authorities have asked residents to leave the clean-up to officials, locals have organized to help.

"People have realized that they need to take things into their hands. We are here to protect our fauna and flora," environmental activist Ashok Subron said in an AFP story.

Reuters reported that sugar cane leaves, plastic bottles and human hair donated by locals are being sewn into makeshift booms.

Human hair absorbs oil, but not water, so scientists have long suggested it as a material to contain oil spills, Gizmodo reported. Mauritians are currently collecting as much human hair as possible to contribute to the booms, which consist of tubes and nets that float on the water to trap the oil.

A northern mockingbird on June 24, 2016. Renee Grayson / CC BY 2.0

Environmentalists and ornithologists found a friend in a federal court on Tuesday when a judge struck down a Trump administration attempt to allow polluters to kill birds without repercussions through rewriting the Migratory Treaty Bird Act (MBTA).

Read More Show Less
A spiny dogfish shark swims in the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of Washington. NOAA / Wikimedia Commons

By Elizabeth Claire Alberts

There are trillions of microplastics in the ocean — they bob on the surface, float through the water column, and accumulate in clusters on the seafloor. With plastic being so ubiquitous, it's inevitable that marine organisms, such as sharks, will ingest them.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A "vessel of opportunity" skims oil spilled after the Deepwater Horizon well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010. NOAA / Flickr / CC by 2.0

By Loveday Wright and Stuart Braun

After a Japanese-owned oil tanker struck a reef off Mauritius on July 25, a prolonged period of inaction is threatening to become an ecological disaster.

Read More Show Less