Monsanto Sues Vermont, Claims First-Ever GMO Labeling Law in U.S. Violates Free Speech

June 16, 2014   |   ANTIMEDIA

Emerson Rensink 

(ANTIMEDIA) On May 8, Vermont became the first state to pass a law requiring genetically-modified (GM) foods to be labeled. Monsanto, along with the biggest food lobby in the world, responded by filing suit, claiming the new law violates the companies’ right to free speech. Image credit

In a statement, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) complained: “Act 120 imposes burdensome new speech requirements — and restrictions — that will affect, by Vermont’s count, eight out of every ten foods at the grocery store.” They went on to assert that the sole authority in the country over food safety and labeling requirements is the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Falko Schilling, consumer protection advocate with the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, opined: “The people of Vermont have said loud and clear they have a right to know what is in their food… so putting labels on is a reasonable and prudent thing so people can decide for themselves.”

In an email from the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), National Director Ronnie Cummins praised the new law, stating: “After years of good old-fashioned work, and playing by the rules, the grassroots labeling movement achieved its first real victory this year, when Vermont passed the first no-strings-attached law requiring mandatory labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs).”

Following the news of the lawsuit, Cummins blasted Monsanto and the GMA in an official press release, calling the suit “a desperate attempt to protect corporate shareholder profits at the expense of consumers’ rights and health.”

He added: “More than 60 other countries have either banned GMOs, or require mandatory labeling of foods that contain them. Consumers in the U.S. have every reasonable right to the same information that consumers in other countries have about foods and ingredients that have not been subjected to independent, pre-market safety testing.”

Before Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin even signed Act 120 into law, Monsanto and its usual cohort the GMA threatened to challenge the bill in court. They made good on their threat just a little over a month later.

Big Ag’s move to sue isn’t news to those who’ve been paying attention. In fact, $1.5 million was earmarked in the bill to pay for the imminent legal defense. That may not be enough, however, to go against the big guns at Monsanto and GMA, who spent $22 million alone in the fight against a GMO-labeling initiative that failed in Washington state last year.

The same anti-labeling lobby defeated a similar ballot initiative in California in 2012, despite big name endorsements and donations.

Vermont is the first state to successfully get past the hurdle of simply enacting a law to require labeling. Its fate in court will likely set the precedent for other similar laws in other states.

Currently, 29 states have bills in the works, and Oregon is gearing up for a GMO-labeling initiative that will appear on the ballot this November.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Please feel free to re-publish any information from this article in part or in full, giving credit to the author and including a link to the original source.

Emerson Rensink is an Olympia-trans*planted activist, organizer and citizen journalist. He helped organize the global March Against Monsanto in May 2013. In addition to writing for The Anti-Media, Emerson’s work can be found at Center for a Stateless Society. In his free time, Emerson likes to watch depressing documentaries and find funny, pointless things on the Internet.

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58 Comments

  1. I would take it one step further, as the right to know what's in your food does not violate free speech (or lack of it by not saying what it is) by labeling every ingredient in that GMO, for example if they use fish crossed with a carrot, crossed with bat guano and whatever they use as an insecticide -the bacterial genes needed to produce Bt toxins and introduce them into plants to deter bugs and the end result looks like a tomato. Just because it looks like a duck walks like a duck and quacks like a duck does not make it a duck anymore but a mad scientist's witches brew.

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  2. WHAT?! How is hiding information from consumers and violating free speech laws an exercise of free speech? (Having Scanners moment here.)

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  3. Since when are companies granted any constitutional rights?

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  4. Freedom of speech is granted to THE PEOPLE!!! Since when does a company have freedoms over the people?

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  5. I'm waiting for someone rich enough to sue Monsanto for contaminating non-gm and organic farms, and be prosecuted for knowingly harming consumers and hiding it. How is anything they do legal

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  6. i doubt that will happen http://www.globalresearch.ca/monsanto-protection-act-signed-by-obama-gmo-bill-written-by-monsanto-signed-into-law/5329388 The Monsanto Protection Act, essentially both written by and benefiting Monsanto Corporation, has been signed into law by United States President Barack Obama. The infamous Monsanto Corporation will benefit greatly and directly from the bill, as it essentially gives companies that deal with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and genetically engineered (GE) seeds immunity to the federal courts, among other things.

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  7. Hiding what information?

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  8. It doesn't. You are making it up.

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  9. Taylor Johns Everyone in the "know" already knows you are a Monsanto Troll! Get a life!

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  10. I don't care about your name calling.

    You are pushing misinformation.

    If you were being honest, you would be more intellectually honest than insults.

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  11. What information is being withheld? All the nutritional information and ingredients are listed. Processes like genetic modification (or artificial selection or radioactive mutagenesis for conventional and organic crops) are not things to be listed, as they are neither an ingredient nor a nutritional fact.

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  12. Monsanto has nothing to do with this case, they're not even listed in the lawsuit. It is the farmers that are suing, because this law interferes with their ability to grow and sell what they want, not to mention implies a false statement of health information with the labeling. There is no other process that is mandatory to be labeled and this shouldn't be either.

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  13. Seed patenting is not new.
    The sky is not falling.

    There are important things you could be fighting for instead of fighting for the starvation of the 3rd world.

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  14. …and that 3rd World starvation psyops is a load of crap, it has been proven that the yields are either the same or organic has been higher yields, my family has also gained higher yields the conventional way and are laughing all the way to the bank.

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  15. Corey, there's way too much scientific illiteracy there to wade through. It's a convoluted strawman.

    There's nothing illegal or insidious going on. If there were, you would have better than 4 out of context shots that prove land doesn't just stay unused. The owners lease it out.

    Big deal.

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  16. You bring death and the only thing that can productively be grown is weeds or patented seed.

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  17. ..and my pics of the black mold at the end of the season from the GMO corn has been deleted by the looks of it as I cannot find it anymore, many albums of mine are now missing. But that mold came from those pods and eventually into my kitchen weekly compost downwind in the City.

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  18. The following year, 2012 they grew beans and no black mold on them nor in my kitchen. It came from your corn and i kept record of it.

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  19. Now, like I said, talk to the hand, I will not be responding anymore as the facts speak for themselves. GMO is the worst thing to ever happen in all of human History, and generations from now will be suffering as a result.

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  20. But before I go, one last comment. There is no limit to what monsatan can do, they can sue every farmer, every State, every Country, they can sell food for 5 cents for 7 years and bankrupt every farmer, then, after 7 yrs of losses, charge a million dollars for a potato, it's called in no uncertain terms, food nazi's. A dangerous dictatorship, Nestle' wants to be water nazi's and Monsanto wants to be food nazi's. plain and simple.

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  21. Taylor Johns Actually, corporations are now treated as "people". Recent law passed to ensure that. That is why the lawsuit is even happening to begin with, if it wasn't the case, their would not BE a lawsuit.

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  22. Because it's not. These people just don't care about reality.

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  23. 1. Monsanto is not named in the suit. It's completely made up.
    2. Corporations as people is not applicable to this case. Just mentioning 9-11 doesn't mean it's appropriate.

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  24. Who is "you"?

    I live in California. I've never seen strawman swamp.

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  25. Monsanto is NOT suing Vermont. Monsanto already labels all its products. Big AG is not suing Vermont. An association of retailers who sell foods in Vermont is suing Vermont because of the stupidity of the Anti-Monsanto luddites. Here is a link to the text of the lawsuit so that you can actually see who is suing Vermont: http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.scribd.com%2Fdoc%2F229432405%2FPDF-Lawsuit-vs-Vermont-GMO-law&h=pAQEUSfpj I, personally, think that all producers of "organic" and/or "natural" foods and herbs in Vermont should have to label their products with their contents so that the people of Vermont know what they are eating. Because an apple just isn't an apple unless you know what's in it.

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  26. Also, if you looked up the suit, Monsanto is not mentioned.

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  27. Botanie Soap
    CItations needed.

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  28. if you throw a gmo tomato at a Monsanto lawyer is it assault with a deadly weapon?

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  29. I actually had a cousin who defended Monsanto I bit my tongue till it bled

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  30. The state of Vermont has the right to to force GMO labeling or even ban GMO's. Every state has that right. In most matters states rights over rule federal decisions. Its part of our system of checks and balances. Why would it go to court?

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  31. Help me understand this. The push to label foods that contain or may contain GMO's is rooted in the Consumers right to know what is in their food. So this will directly have an effect on a Consumer's decision to purchase said Food product. However, by definition isn't Organic Food, which is so outrageously expensive, GMO free anyway. Buy USDA Organic if you are so health concerned. Waste of money and the labeling will do nothing! The same people pushing for labeling laws are cursing you with their left hand while reaching out for their McDonald's order with their right! SMH!

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  32. eh. it might change a few peoples mind if they become aware of it. but hey even thats only one or two people it still helped some one

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  33. Taylor Johns forgive me for making a comment a year later, but Hobby Lobby is proof that corporations are people…when the owner can force their religious viewpoint on you.

    Sure, they could quit the job, but in an economy where job security is unstable, it might not be wise.

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  34. These companies are all owned BY MONSANTO they are subsidiaries of that company. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grocery_Manufacturers_Association
    Do Just a little research and open your narrow minds. Ask yourself why would these corporations not want GMO labeling, why can a consumer not have a choice of what they are buying and ingesting?

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  35. Ohhh, that's right, Monsanto also owns the government and the court system.. I keep forgetting that.

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  36. Politicians Paid By Monsanto

    House of Representatives:

    Total paid by Monsanto to Democrats: $72,000

    Total paid by Monsanto to Republicans: $190,500

    Barrow, John (D-GA) $2,500
    Bishop, Sanford (D-GA) $5,000
    Boehner, John (R-OH) $10,000
    Braley, Bruce (D-IA) $5,000
    Camp, Dave (R-MI) $5,000
    Cantor, Eric (R-VA) $10,000
    Clay, William L Jr (D-MO) $10,000
    Cleaver, Emanuel (D-MO) $5,000
    Conaway, Mike (R-TX) $2,000
    Courtney, Joe (D-CT) $4,500
    Crawford, Rick (R-AR) $2,500
    Fincher, Steve (R-TN) $8,000
    Gardner, Cory (R-CO) $7,500
    Goodlatte, Bob (R-VA) $4,500
    Graves, Sam (R-MO) $5,000
    Griffin, Tim (R-AR) $1,000
    Guthrie, Brett (R-KY) $1,000
    Hanabusa, Colleen (D-HI)$5,000
    Hannemann, Mufi (D-HI) $1,000
    Hartzler, Vicky (R-MO) $3,000
    Holden, Tim (D-PA) $1,000
    Huelskamp, Tim (R-KS) $2,500
    Hultgren, Randy (R-IL) $2,500
    Jenkins, Lynn (R-KS) $2,500
    Johnson, Timothy (R-IL) $3,000
    King, Steven A (R-IA) $2,500
    Kingston, Jack (R-GA) $7,000
    Kinzinger, Adam (R-IL) $3,500
    Kissell, Larry (D-NC) $5,000
    Labrador, Raul (R-ID) $2,000
    LaMalfa, Doug (R-CA) $1,000
    Landry, Jeff (R-LA) $1,000
    Latham, Tom (R-IA) $10,000
    Loebsack, David (D-IA) $5,000
    Long, Billy (R-MO) $2,500
    Lucas, Frank D (R-OK) $10,000
    Luetkemeyer, Blaine (R-MO)$5,000
    Lungren, Dan (R-CA) $1,000
    McIntyre, Mike (D-NC) $1,000
    Neugebauer, Randy (R-TX)$1,000
    Noem, Kristi (R-SD) $1,000
    Nunes, Devin (R-CA) $3,500
    Owens, Bill (D-NY) $2,000
    Peterson, Collin (D-MN) $10,000
    Rogers, Hal (R-KY) $7,500
    Rokita, Todd (R-IN) $5,000
    Roskam, Peter (R-IL) $1,000
    Schilling, Bobby (R-IL) $3,000
    Schock, Aaron (R-IL) $5,000
    Shimkus, John M (R-IL) $5,000
    Simpson, Mike (R-ID) $10,000
    Smith, Adrian (R-NE) $5,000
    Stutzman, Marlin (R-IN) $5,000
    Thompson, Bennie G (D-MS) $10,000
    Thompson, Glenn (R-PA) $1,000
    Upton, Fred (R-MI) $5,000
    Valadao, David (R-CA) $2,500
    Wagner, Ann L (R-MO) $10,000
    Walden, Greg (R-OR) $1,000
    Walorski, Jackie (R-IN) $2,500
    Womack, Steve (R-AR) $1,000

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  37. Senate

    Total paid by Monsanto to Democrats: $37,500

    Total paid by Monsanto to Republicans: $85,000

    Akin, Todd (R-MO) $3,500
    Baucus, Max (D-MT) $1,000
    Berg, Rick (R-ND) $10,000
    Blunt, Roy (R-MO) $10,000
    Boozman, John (R-AR) $5,000
    Casey, Bob (D-PA) $2,500
    Chambliss, Saxby (R-GA) $5,000
    Fischer, Deb (R-NE) $5,000
    Gillibrand, Kirsten (D-NY) $1,000
    Grassley, Chuck (R-IA) $2,000
    Hirono, Mazie K (D-HI) $1,000
    Johanns, Mike (R-NE) $1,000
    Klobuchar, Amy (D-MN) $5,000
    Landrieu, Mary L (D-LA) $1,000
    McCaskill, Claire (D-MO) $5,000
    McConnell, Mitch (R-KY) $10,000
    Moran, Jerry (R-KS) $2,500
    Nelson, Ben (D-NE) $13,000
    Rehberg, Denny (R-MT) $2,000
    Risch, James E (R-ID) $3,500
    Roberts, Pat (R-KS) $9,000
    Stabenow, Debbie (D-MI) $8,000
    Thompson, Tommy G (R-WI) $5,000
    Wicker, Roger (R-MS) $1,000
    Wilson, Heather A (R-NM) $2,500

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  38. boring…..don't really care. That's what happens when you comment on a post that's over 10 months old.

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