April 12, 2004 -- CropChoice news: The Vermont House of Representatives
voice-voted on final passage last week to endorse the
Farmer's Right-to-Know Seed Labeling Bill (H-777)
, an act defining egenetically engineeredi seeds as
different from conventional seeds in the state of Vermont
seed statute, and mandating the labeling of all genetically
engineered seeds sold in the state. The bill goes back
to the Senate next week for confirmation of final changes,
before going to Governor Douglas for final approval
and enactment. The vote followed the state Senate unanimously
approving the Farmer Protection Act in March,
and 79 Vermont towns passing Town Meeting measures calling
on lawmakers in Montpelier and Washington enact a moratorium
on genetically engineered crops.
Representative Floyd Nease (D-Johnson) reported out
the bill, explaining that this act is intended to "avoid
potential adverse affects on biological diversity from
use of GE seeds." Nease noted that the bill proscribes
labeling of GE seeds by the manufacturer, which can
either print or attatch a tag reading "GE"
on the seed packets.
Responsibility for this labeling rests with seed manufacturers,
not Vermont retailers, unless retailers package and
market their own GE seeds. Section four of the bill
also requires seed manufacturers to report on GE seed
sales to the Agency of Agriculture in addition to general
seed sales reporting.
"This bill is a step in the right direction. It
gives consumers, both farmers and gardeners, the option
of choices. I hope we will also, some day, get to vote
to protect all of our farms from the economic consequences
that may result from the contamination of seeds,"
said Representative David Zuckerman (P-Burlington),
referring to the Farmer Protection Act, a bill awaiting
action in the House Natural Resources Committee. He
sits on that committee.
"The key piece of the Farmer's Right to Know
Act defines genetically engineered seeds and plants
as different from conventional varieties. This bucks
the industry's claim that GE is the same as conventional,
and therefore doesn't require any additional regulation.
This bill is the first of its kind in the US, and destabilizes
the whole premise of substantial equivalence, which
informs GMO policy at every level," said Amy Shollenberger,
Policy Director at Rural Vermont.
"Let's not forget that, while this seed labeling
bill is important, we're talking about seeds that are
still patented GMOs with a life of their own—and
that's a whole can of worms of liability, contamination,
and living pollution. That's why we've got to support
our family producers with the Farmer Protection
Act, and call a Time Out on GMOs," said Dexter
Randall, a 7th generation dairy farmer from Troy. Randall
will be speaking on April 17th at the International
Day of Farmer's Struggles rally at Derby Line, Vermont
on the US/Canada border to represent the global movement
of farmers saying no to GMOs and the corporate takeover
For more information: http://www.gefreevt.org