Saturday, April 7, 2012

Monsanto Threatens Vermont

The world’s most hated corporation is at it again, this time in Vermont.

"Despite overwhelming public support and support from a clear majority of Vermont’s Agriculture Committee, Vermont legislators are dragging their feet on a proposed GMO labeling bill. Why? Because Monsanto has threatened to sue the state if the bill passes.

The popular legislative bill requiring mandatory labels on genetically engineered food (H-722) is languishing in the Vermont House Agriculture Committee, with only four weeks left until the legislature adjourns for the year. Despite thousands of emails and calls from constituents who overwhelmingly support mandatory labeling, despite the fact that a majority (6 to 5) of Agriculture Committee members support passage of the measure, Vermont legislators are holding up the labeling bill and refusing to take a vote.

Monsanto has used lawsuits or threats of lawsuits for 20 years to force unlabeled genetically engineered foods on the public, and to intimidate farmers into buying their genetically engineered seeds and hormones. When Vermont became the first state in the nation in 1994 to require mandatory labels on milk and dairy products derived from cows injected with the controversial genetically engineered Bovine Growth Hormone, Monsanto’s minions sued in Federal Court and won on a judge’s decision that dairy corporations have the first amendment “right” to remain silent on whether or not they are injecting their cows with rBGH - even though rBGH has been linked to severe health damage in cows and increased cancer risk for humans, and is banned in much of the industrialized world, including Europe and Canada.

Monsanto wields tremendous influence in Washington, DC and most state capitals. The company’s stranglehold over politicians and regulatory officials is what has prompted activists in California to bypass the legislature and collect 850,000 signatures to place a citizens’ Initiative on the ballot in November 2012. The 2012 California Right to Know Act will force mandatory labeling of GMOs and to ban the routine practice of labeling GMO-tainted food as “natural.”

On the other side of the fence, Monsanto’s lobbyist and Vermont mouthpiece, Margaret Laggis employed inaccurate, unsubstantiated, fear-mongering claims to make Monsanto’s case. She warned during the hearings that if this law were passed, there would not be enough corn, canola, and soybean seed for Vermont farmers to plant.

Laggis lied when she said that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had done exhaustive feeding tests on genetically modified foods. Hansen corrected her, testifying that all of the GMO feeding tests submitted to the FDA were conducted by Monsanto and other GMO corporations and that the FDA had not done any GMO testing of its own.

Laggis lied again when she claimed that a recent Canadian study showing that more than 90% pregnant women had high levels of a genetically modified bacterial pesticide in their blood resulted from them “eating too much organic food” during pregnancy. Again, Hansen refuted this nonsense by pointing out that the Bacillus thuingensis (Bt) bacterium spray used by organic growers is chemically and materially different from the GMO Bt bacterium which showed up in the pregnant women’s blood and the umbilical cords of their fetuses. Hanson pointed that the high levels of Monsanto’s mutant Bt in the women’s blood was due to the widespread cultivation of GMO corn, cotton, soy, and canola.

The committee heard testimony that European Union studies have been conducted which showed that even short-term feeding studies of GMO crops caused 43.5% of male test animals to suffer kidney abnormalities, and 30.8% of female test animals to suffer liver abnormalities. Studies also have shown that the intestinal lining of animals fed GMO food was thickened compared to the control animals. All of these short-term results could become chronic, and thus precursors to cancer.

(Studies like these have prompted 50 nations around the world to pass laws requiring mandatory labels on GMO foods.)

In the end, none of the scientific testimony mattered. Monsanto operatives simply reverted to their usual tactics: They openly threatened to sue the state.

Unfortunately in the US, industry and the government continue to side with Monsanto rather than the 90% of consumers who support labeling. Monsanto’s biotech bullying is a classic example of how the 1% control the rest of us, even in Vermont, generally acknowledged as the most progressive state in the nation.

What it really comes down to this: Elected officials are abandoning the public interest and public will in the face of corporate intimidation."

If you live in Vermont, activists are organizing a protest at the state capital on April 12 to coincide with the next round of hearings on H-722, and are asking residents to write letters, make calls, and e-mail their legislators and the Governor. For more information, please go to the website  or the Facebook page of the Vermont Right to Know Campaign.


  1. It seems like more and more our gov. steps aside for big business because it seems to me that too many of our gov. officals are paid kick backs by big business to do nothing about the posions that we are being feed and they do not care about you its time we all stand up and vote the dirty old cronys out of office and let them know who pay the bills in this awesome land of ours
    Sorry For My Rantings

  2. Never be sorry for rants against greed, graft and collusion!

    I'm afraid of how much campaign contributions in this election year will affect the few real foods that are still available.

  3. Quote: "Elected officials are abandoning the public interest and public will in the face of corporate intimidation." That is so true -- not only of Monsanto but of a whole host of corporations. We, the people, need to speak up and speak out, not only defense of ourselves, but in defense of all those whose rights and freedoms are being trampled.

    1. I heartily agree. In this case, the Vermont Voters spoke up for labeling, but to what avail?

      When did elected officials get so cocky they can directly oppose their constituency and get away with it?

      Something is terribly wrong in our world.

  4. It just seems to me that we get all riled up and then turn around and vote for the lessor of two evils. That still leaves us with evil!


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