Want to Know if Your Food Is Genetically Modified?

Across the country, an aggressive grassroots movement is winning support with its demands for GMO labeling. If only it had science on its side.

May 14, 2014 | Source: The Atlantic | by Molly Ball

For Related Articles and More Information, Please Visit OCA’s Genetic Engineering Page, Millions Against Monsanto Page and our Oregon News Page.

In more than 30 years in politics, Bobby Starr had never seen anything like it.

The Vermont state senator, a Democrat, represents a remote, rural district on the Canadian border. For the past couple of years, everywhere he went, everyone from villagers at their annual town meeting to children at a school assembly wanted to talk about genetically modified organisms in their food.

The people bringing it up weren’t outside agitators or stereotypical Vermont hippies. “They were just ordinary citizens,” Starr told me recently. “I’ve lived here all my life basically to this point, so I know them.” Though Starr, a farmer and former truck driver, had previously chaired the senate’s agriculture committee for more than a decade, he had no strong feelings one way or the other about the idea of requiring labeling of genetically modified, or GM, ingredients. He’d always looked out for farmers, and they were mostly against labeling. But it was clear what his constituents wanted. “I’ve always been pretty good at remembering who I represent,” he says.

So Starr became a supporter of a GMO-labeling bill in the Vermont legislature. He had plenty of company. When the legislature held public hearings on the labeling bill in 2012 and again this year, the chamber filled to overflowing with people who wanted to testify both times. Not a single member of the public spoke against the legislation. The final vote in the state senate was 28-2.           

There are currently 84 bills on GMO labeling in 29 states, as well as dueling bills in Congress.      

Last week, Governor Peter Shumlin, a Democrat, signed the bill, which stands to make Vermont the first state in the country to require foods sold within its borders to indicate on their labels whether they contain genetically modified ingredients. Activists hailed the move. “The biggest victory, the watershed victory, has taken place with the signing of the legislation in Vermont,” says Ken Cook, president of the the D.C.-based Environmental Working Group.