Sanders Fights to Protect Vermont’s GMO Labeling Law

WASHINGTON, July 7 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Thursday strongly opposed legislation that preempts Vermont’s first-in-the-nation law requiring products made with genetically modified ingredients to be labeled.

“The legislation that passed is an outrage and speaks to the power of big money in American politics,” Sanders said. “The Grocery Manufacturers Association, Monsanto and other agribusiness spent hundreds of millions of dollars against the Vermont law and against other states going forward to protect consumers.”

“When parents go to the store and purchase food, they have the right to know what is in the food their kids are going to be eating,” Sanders said during a speech on the floor of the Senate ahead of the vote.

Due in part to Vermont’s requirement, which went into effect last Friday, many large companies such as Campbell’s, Frito-Lay, Kellogg and ConAgra are already labeling products nationwide.

But instead of a uniform labeling standard like Vermont’s law, the bill introduced by Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) creates a confusing standard that allows an electronic code to be used. The bill also contains huge loopholes and doesn’t impose penalties for violating the labeling requirement. 

Sanders offered an amendment to the legislation to make Vermont’s consumer-friendly labeling requirement the national standard, but Republicans blocked it.

“Under Vermont's law and my amendment, consumers can glance quickly at a product and be able to determine the GMO contents with no need for a smartphone or internet connection,” Sanders said of his amendment, which would also close the gaping loopholes in Stabenow and Roberts’ bill. “What makes sense is to build on what Vermont has done, not come up with an unenforceable, confusing, weak piece of legislation paid for by the large food corporations in this country.”

To read Sanders’ amendment, click here