Monsanto threatens to sue the entire state of Vermont

jacob crim 2012/04/07 14:06:17
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.

Instead, they're calling for more public hearings on April 12, in the apparent hope that they can run out the clock until the legislative session ends in early May.

What happened to the formerly staunch legislative champions of Vermont's "right to know" bill? They lost their nerve and abandoned their principles after a Monsanto representative recently threatened a public official that the biotech giant would sue Vermont if they dared to pass the bill. Several legislators have rather unconvincingly argued that the Vermont public has a "low appetite" for any bills, even very popular bills like this one, that might end up in court. Others expressed concern about Vermont being the first state to pass a mandatory GMO labeling bill and then having to "go it alone" against Monsanto in court.

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

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 capitols. 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."

All of Monsanto's fear mongering and intimidation tactics were blatantly on display in the House Agriculture Committee hearings March 15-16.

During the hearings, the Vermont legislature was deluged with calls, letters, and e-mails urging passage of a GMO labeling bill - more than on any other bill since the fight over Civil Unions in 1999-2000. The legislature heard from pro-labeling witnesses such as Dr. Michael Hansen, an expert on genetic engineering from the Consumers Union, who shredded industry claims that GMOs are safe and that consumers don't need to know if their food is contaminated with them.

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 right 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

It is so sad that corporations have the power to sue a entire state because the elected officials want to help their citizens, land of the free my ass.

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  • Think Free 2012/04/08 03:06:45
    Think Free
  • Average Joe 2012/04/07 23:48:53
    Average Joe
    There is much more to the Monsanto story that can be covered in the article above. Monsanto is an evil but dangerous and genius organization. They've spliced and created things that should never be permitted. Remember THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU?" It's not as far-fetched as some may believe. Just a few years ago the USDA advocated the production of rice with human genes.
  • jacob crim Average... 2012/04/08 13:44:00
  • Average... jacob crim 2012/04/08 15:29:02
    Average Joe
    Yea, that's another angle of the garbage they're trying to shove down our throats. They don't even want us to know what we're consuming and I have another theory regarding what that entails and why they're doing it. At the risk of coming across as a tinfoil hat-wearing conspiracy theorist, microchips can and have been consumed (both intentionally and secretly) by placing it in certain foods. They have "digestible" chips now on the market. http://www.youtube.com/watch?... Big brother doesn't need to impose tracking devices on us, we're going to willingly consume them.
  • jacob crim Average... 2012/04/08 22:16:00
    jacob crim
    UGH I have always feared Microchips and this does not put me at any ease.
  • Average... jacob crim 2012/04/09 01:56:52
    Average Joe
    I always thought it would be the kids first, you know, like we do dogs and cats. I always believed the feds would convince parents it's a great deterrent against kidnapping or so but with information like that in the link above, I wouldn't be surprised if half the nation isn't already chipped ... you know, for our own good, of course.
  • jacob crim Average... 2012/04/09 11:24:53
    jacob crim
    I saw a study where three generations of hamsters were tested on untainted Soy and GM Soy. The third generation of baby hamsters on GM soy were sterile, so that makes me think thats how they will REALLY get the children. Meaning my generation is the first, I knew it would be a slow burn process.
  • Average... jacob crim 2012/04/09 16:22:03
    Average Joe
    Wow. I researched that ... scary stuff with long-lasting effects of which we may not realize for years to come.
  • Max 2012/04/07 17:02:55
    Vermont must have missed the news coming out of Europe. Poland just banned genetically modified maize, following in the steps of France and Hungary. I don't know if Vermont grows maize but it seems everything I've read about Monsanto is bad news.

  • jacob crim Max 2012/04/08 13:44:29
    jacob crim
    There is no good news about Monsanto, not until they are stopped at least.
  • Dale 2012/04/07 14:50:14
    To Monsanto I say thumbs up To Vermont I say thumbs down
  • Grabitz 2012/04/07 14:23:30
    I agree , land of the free my ass .

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