Vermont, Connecticut Also Advance Labeling Laws
We may have narrowly lost the GMO labeling fight in California this past November, but there’s good reason to believe we’ll win in at least two or three states in 2013.
Today, activists in Washington State will deliver approximately 350,000 signatures to the state legislature, guaranteeing that when voters show up at the polls in November, they’ll get the chance to pass I-522, a statewide GMO labeling initiative.
On the other side of the country, Vermont is picking up where it left off last year after the governor caved in to Monsanto’s threats to sue the state if it passed a GMO labeling law. Undaunted, and buoyed by stronger-than-ever support from consumers and lawmakers, Vermont legislators will reintroduce GMO labeling legislation in early January. Connecticut is moving forward, too, with plans to introduce a similarly popular GMO labeling bill early this year.
All signs point to an uphill battle for Monsanto and friends to defeat I-522 in Washington State. I-522 proponents have a full nine months to raise awareness and money, compared with the YES on 37 (California Right to Know Genetically GMO Labeling) Campaign which had only six months to reach voters and raise money. Plus we had to raise a lot more money in California, which has five times as many voters as Washington.
Other reasons for optimism in Washington?
- Washington’s wheat farmers, apple farmers and fishing communities support mandatory GMO labeling because it’s in the best economic interests of the state. Unlabeled GMO wheat, apples and salmon coming on the market will severely damage state agricultural exports.
- Washington’s newly elected Governor, Jay Inslee, is a long-time supporter and former Congressional advocate of GMO labeling.
- The biotech industry is going to have a tough time explaining why GMO salmon have to be labeled in Alaska, under a state law passed in 2005, but won’t be labeled in Washington.
- Consumers could force Big Food, which donated millions in California to defeat Prop 37, to sit out the fight in Washington, as they continue to boycott the organic and natural brands of big donors, such as Kellogg’s, General Mills, Unilever, Dean Foods, Kraft, Pepsi and Coca Cola.
- If we pass a GMO labeling law in Washington and Vermont and/or Connecticut it will likely have the same marketplace impact as a national law. National brands won’t want to face the PR nightmare of labeling their products as containing GMOs in one state, while keeping consumers in the dark about GMOs in other states.