Author Archives: Mollie

Brownfield: Organic groups will appeal Monsanto ruling

March 29, 2012
By Bob Meyer
Full Article

A group of organic farmers and seed dealers has filed notice it plans to appeal a judge’s decision in their suit against Monsanto. The group challenged Monsanto’s patents on genetically modified seeds and technology alleging the company could sue farmers for violating those patents if pollen from gm plants drifted and contaminated non-gm plants. U.S. District Court Judge Naomi Buchwald in the Southern District of New York threw the case out last month calling it an “effort to create a controversy where none exists.” The group is seeking review by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington D.C.


VT Digger: Bill requiring labeling of genetically engineered food saved from procedural death

By Carl Etnier
March 19, 2012
Full Article

A bill that would require labeling of genetically engineered food was given further life in the Legislature even though the House Agriculture Committee missed Friday’s “crossover day” deadline. Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell OK’d the bill for consideration later in the session, and the House panel plans to continue work on the bill next week.

The bill (H. 722) amends the definition of “misbranded” food in Vermont law to include food that is produced with genetic engineering but not labeled as such.

Some food is excepted, such as meat, milk and eggs from animals fed genetically engineered feed or treated with genetically engineered drugs, such as bovine growth hormone. If the animal itself has been created through genetic engineering, however, its meat or other products would be required to be labeled as genetically engineered.

The bill defines genetic engineering to include a number of breeding techniques that breach barriers between species, and it applies to both raw agricultural commodities, like vegetables, and processed foods that contain genetically engineered ingredients. It would also prohibit any labeling of genetically engineered food as “natural.”

The agricultural use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has ballooned in the U.S. since it began in the early 1990s. According to testimony before the committee, more than 80 percent of the corn, soybeans and canola grown in the U.S. is genetically engineered, and more than 70 percent of all processed foods contain some GMO ingredients.

Witnesses, even those opposed to labeling food as genetically engineered, told the committee last week that 80 percent to 90 percent of consumers want to know whether the food they buy contains GMOs.

Proponents of labeling also cite GMOs’ environmental effects. Gary Hirshberg, chairman of organic yogurt producer Stonyfield Farms, said that crops with a gene for resistance to a widely used herbicide, glyphosate (sold under the trade name Roundup), have resulted in herbicide-resistant “superweeds” on over 13 million acres of farmland in 26 states. This leads, he said, to greater use of stronger defoliants like 2,4-D.

Hirshberg promoted labeling so consumers can to choose not to support practices that lead to these environmental effects. “This gives a voice to the consumer-driven food economy that wants the transparency that only labeling can bring,” he said.

Committee member and organic farmer Will Stevens, I-Shoreham, was interested in the marketing opportunity for farmers. Stevens’ questions led witnesses opposed to the bill to acknowledge that labeling could, indeed, change the market.

It might not change the market in a way that benefits small producers and manufacturers who now avoid GMOs, according to Laggis. Before Vermont’s rBST-labeling law, she said, Booth Brothers was the only milk labeled rBST-free.

“What ended up happening is, now almost all milk is labeled as BST-free, and that probably would not have happened if Vermont had not focused so much consumer attention on it,” Laggis said. “Booth Brothers might have actually captured a larger, more significant share.”

According to Hansen at Consumers Union, more than 50 countries containing a third of the world’s population require some sort of labeling of food containing GMOs. Hirshberg said that countries requiring labeling include all of the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Korea and Russia.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not require labeling and, Agriculture Committee Chair Carolyn Partridge, D-Windham, said, no state does, either. Hirshberg said that 21 states are working on similar bills.

The committee is clearly hesitant to make Vermont the first state in the nation to pass a law opposed by biotechnology giants like Monsanto, a company with a track record of aggressive litigation to protect their products. The committee asked Ryan Kriger of the state Attorney General’s Office about various grounds for challenging the bill’s constitutionality.

They also asked him about the cost to the state of defending a 1994 law requiring milk containing genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rBST) to be labeled, a law that was ultimately struck down by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. (Kriger said that the cost was impossible to calculate for a case that long ago.)

Others warned the committee to steer clear of repeating the state’s experience with the 1994 law.

A number of the witnesses against the bill said they would be less opposed to a labeling requirement developed at the federal level, that would be uniform in all states. Stonyfield Farm’s Hirshberg said he spent Thursday at the White House as part of an effort to persuade the FDA to require labeling of genetically engineered food. He said he also supported the state-level efforts.

Laggis said a Vermont-only labeling requirement could harm small Vermont producers. She pointed to Bove’s, a producer of tomato sauce that sells in both Vermont and New York state. She said that since producing two labels is expensive, Bove’s would use its Vermont label in New York state, too. But New York-based tomato sauce producers that don’t sell in Vermont would not be required to label their produce as genetically engineered, and Bove’s would lose sales.

The witnesses who opposed the bill all said they did not object to voluntary labeling of food that does not contain GMOs. While FDA guidelines discourage the use of “GMO-free,” they allow statements like, “Our tomato growers do not plant seeds developed using biotechnology.”

Partridge, the committee chair, said that the committee will use its reprieve from the crossover deadline to hear next week from the lawmakers’ attorneys, Legislative Council, about what legal options they have and what the effects might be of various provisions. In addition to passing the bill as written, lawmakers have discussed making the bill take effect when a certain number of other states pass similar bills or amending the bill to encourage voluntary labeling of food that is not genetically engineered.


04/10 GMO Hearing Action Alert

Do You Want The Right to Know
If Your Food Is Genetically Engineered?

Now’s The Time to Make Your Voice Count!
JOIN US
at the Public Hearing on H.722,
The Vermont Right To Know GMO Food Labeling Bill
Thursday, April 12, 2012
6:30-8:30PM
House Chambers, Vermont State House, Montpelier
Dear Members & Friends,

 

Rural Vermont is working with the VT Right to Know GMOs coalition to demonstrate the overwhelming public support for H.722. This bill would simply require that food sold in Vermont that is genetically engineered be labeled. We all have the right to know what is in our food.
Help us convince the House Committee on Agriculture
that they should pass this bill NOW!
PUBLIC HEARING
VT RIGHT TO KNOW GMO FOOD LABELING BILL – H. 722
Thursday, April 12. 6:30pm- 8:30pm
House Chambers, Vermont State House

Montpelier

>>If you plan to testify please show up by 5:45PM to sign up
and be sure to check in with Rural Vermont staff<<

Please click here for detailed information on the Public Hearing. If you have additional questions or need assistance, please email Robb
or call Rural Vermont at 223-7222

PLEASE NOTE: Vermont GMO activists are organizing FREE buses from several locations to help people get to the hearing.

Help us spread the word and stay in touch with the

VT Right To Know GMOs Campaign by “LIKING” VT Right To Know GMOs on Facebook

Thanks for your help!
Andrea Stander
Rural Vermont Director

P.S. Can’t make it to Montpelier on Thurs? Join us on Tues. April 17th at locations around the state for a special screening of “You Wanted to Be a Farmer: A Discussion of Scale.” This new 30 min. documentary features Dan Brown, a farmer in Maine who is challenging assumptions about how to create resilient community-based food systems. You can find all the details here.


Rural Vermont Presents New Film “You Wanted to be a Farmer” about Small Farm Policy

Multiple Screenings throughout Vermont on April 17th

On Tuesday, April 17th, Rural Vermont partners with local supporters to bring “You Wanted to Be a Farmer: A Discussion of Scale” to various locations across the state. This special date was chosen to coincide with the International Day of Peasant Struggle, and the events are being brought to Vermont with the support of Food for Maine’s Future, No Umbrella Media, and the Sap Pail. All of these events are free and open to the public.

This new documentary exposes the regulatory challenges that small farms face by chronicling the lawsuit against two Maine farmers for selling unlicensed food. Farm and food policy that is blind to size or scale is an issue that many folks can identify with, and one whose urgency is building among the masses. Get an up-close and personal look at how these barriers are hindering the local foods movement, and then stay to learn more about Rural Vermont’s work to enhance a cultural and regulatory climate that recognizes, validates, and supports Vermonters feeding Vermonters.

“You Wanted to be a Farmer” will be screened at the following locations:

RIPTON, Addison County – Ripton Church, Rte. 125 at 7 pm

SOUTH WHEELOCK, Caledonia County – Chandler Pond Farm at 7 pm.

Please RSVP to Tamara at tamarapmartin@yahoo.com.

BURLINGTON, Chittenden County – 21 Decatur Street at 8 pm.

Please RSVP to Cecile at creuge@gmail.com.

FAIRFIELD, Franklin County – Bent Northrop Memorial Library, 164 Park Street at 7 pm

SAINT ALBANS, Franklin County – Cosmic Bakery & Café, 30 South Main Street at 7 pm. Please RSVP to Denise at denisebsmith@comcast.net.

RANDOLPH, Orange County – Vermont Technical College’s Red House School Building, on the corner of S. Randolph Road and East Bethel Street at 7 pm

NEWPORT, Orleans County – The Brick House, 42 Central Street, #202 at 7 pm.

Please RSVP to Kristopher at (215) 584-3150.

WELLS, Rutland County – Larson Farm, 69 South Road at 7:30 pm

MONTPELIER, Washington County – Kellogg Hubbard Library, 135 Main Street at 6 pm. Co-sponsored by Food Works and Central Vermont Food Systems Council.

CHESTER, Windsor County – Peace of Paradise on the Chester Green at 7 pm. Co-sponsored by Jersey Girls Dairy.

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION, Windsor County – Upper Valley Food Co-op, 193 North Main Street at 7 pm. Co-sponsored by the Co-op.

Rural Vermont staff, Board, or interns will be on-hand at the Fairfield, South Wheelock, Burlington, Randolph, White River Junction and Montpelier events to facilitate a conversation about the huge segment of Vermont’s local food economy that has been unfairly driven underground by bad farm and food policy. Join the conversation and the movement to stand up for good food, stand by your farmer, and let Vermonters feed Vermonters!

“You Wanted to Be a Farmer: A Discussion of Scale”, by No Umbrella Media and the Sap Pail in association with Food for Maine’s Future, profiles Dan and Judy Brown of Gravelwood Farm in Blue Hill, Maine, and the issues surrounding the lawsuit filed against them by the State of Maine and Maine Department of Agriculture, soon after their town was one of six that passed the Local Foods Community Self-Governance Ordinance. The film features “inside-the-barn” interviews with Dan and Judy as well as conversations with their farm patrons. Topics range from the importance of producing food locally to the control over food policy by corporate-influenced government regulatory agencies. “You Wanted to Be a Farmer” is a revealing bottom-up look at food policy that raises important questions about the need for scale-appropriate regulation for neighbors feeding neighbors.

Inspired by the passage of the Local Foods Community Self-Governance Ordinance in several Maine towns, eight Vermont towns passed Food Sovereignty resolutions at Town Meeting 2012. The April 17th film screenings follow on the heels of these resolutions that declared overwhelming support for Vermonters feeding Vermonters. Stay involved with this ongoing conversation about food justice at Rural Vermont’s Annual Celebration on Wednesday, May 16th from 6:30-9pm at the Wilder Center in Wilder. Keynote address “The Future’s in the Dirt: Growing a Culture of Vermonters Feeding Vermonters” by Ben Hewitt will dig more deeply into the challenges and potential of Vermont’s rapidly growing local foods movement.


04/12 Public Hearing on VT Right to Know GMO Food Act (H.722)

Thursday, April 12 6:30pm- 8:30pm
>>Due to expected large attendance, if you want to give testimony, please plan to arrive by 5:45 to sign up<<
House Chambers (2nd floor) Vermont State House Montpelier
PLEASE READ more information HERE.
Stay up to date by ‘liking’ the Right to Know Facebook page.


04/17 Film Screenings: “You Wanted to be a Farmer: A Discussion of Scale”

Film Screenings at various locations around VT (and the country)
Free and open to the public!

RIPTON, Addison County – Ripton Church, Rte. 125 at 7 pm

SOUTH WHEELOCK, Caledonia County – Chandler Pond Farm at 7 pm.
Please RSVP to Tamara at tamarapmartin@yahoo.com.

BURLINGTON, Chittenden County – 21 Decatur Street at 8 pm.
Please RSVP to Cecile at creuge@gmail.com.

FAIRFIELD, Franklin County – Bent Northrop Memorial Library, 164 Park Street at 7 pm

SAINT ALBANS, Franklin County – Cosmic Bakery & Café, 30 South Main Street at 7 pm. Please RSVP to Denise at denisebsmith@comcast.net.

RANDOLPH, Orange County – Vermont Technical College’s Red House School Building, on the corner of S. Randolph Road and East Bethel Street at 7 pm

NEWPORT, Orleans County – The Brick House, 42 Central Street, #202 at 7 pm.
Please RSVP to Kristopher at (215) 584-3150.

WELLS, Rutland County – Larson Farm, 69 South Road at 7:30 pm

MONTPELIER, Washington County – Kellogg Hubbard Library, 135 Main Street at 6 pm. Co-sponsored by Food Works and Central Vermont Food Systems Council. More info included on this poster.

CHESTER, Windsor County – Peace of Paradise on the Chester Green, 7 pm. Co-sponsored by Jersey Girls Dairy.

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION, Windsor County – Upper Valley Food Co-op, 193 North Main Street at 7 pm. Co-sponsored by the Co-op. More info included on this poster.

Rural Vermont staff, Board, or interns will be on-hand at the Fairfield, South Wheelock, Burlington, Randolph, White River Junction and Montpelier events to facilitate a conversation about the huge segment of Vermont’s local food economy that has been unfairly driven underground by bad farm and food policy. Join the conversation and the movement to stand up for good food, stand by your farmer, and let Vermonters feed Vermonters!

“You Wanted to Be a Farmer: A Discussion of Scale”, by No Umbrella Media and the Sap Pail in association with Food for Maine’s Future, profiles Dan and Judy Brown of Gravelwood Farm in Blue Hill, Maine, and the issues surrounding the lawsuit filed against them by the State of Maine and Maine Department of Agriculture, soon after their town was one of six that passed the Local Foods Community Self-Governance Ordinance. The film features “inside-the-barn” interviews with Dan and Judy as well as conversations with their farm patrons. Topics range from the importance of producing food locally to the control over food policy by corporate-influenced government regulatory agencies. “You Wanted to Be a Farmer” is a revealing bottom-up look at food policy that raises important questions about the need for scale-appropriate regulation for neighbors feeding neighbors.

Inspired by the passage of the Local Foods Community Self-Governance Ordinance in several Maine towns, eight Vermont towns passed Food Sovereignty resolutions at Town Meeting 2012. The April 17th film screenings follow on the heels of these resolutions that declared overwhelming support for Vermonters feeding Vermonters. Stay involved with this ongoing conversation about food justice at Rural Vermont’s Annual Celebration on Wednesday, May 16th from 6:30-9pm at the Wilder Center in Wilder. Keynote address “The Future’s in the Dirt: Growing a Culture of Vermonters Feeding Vermonters” by Ben Hewitt will dig more deeply into the challenges and potential of Vermont’s rapidly growing local foods movement. More information here.


03/29 Legislative Update and Action Alert

In this Alert:

Message from the Director
Legislative Update & Action Alert
“You Wanted to be a Farmer” Film Screenings
SAVE THIS DATE: 2012 Annual Celebration-May 16 in Wilder VT
Activist and Volunteer Needs
Join Us!
Message From The Director

Dear Members and Friends:

So did you enjoy that bizarre visit from July that we had last week??? I think I am suffering from a new affliction called CAD (climate anxiety disorder). I had a hard time appreciating the lovely warm days because a little voice in my head kept whispering “We’re gonna pay for this!”

Weather weirdness aside, we are heading into a seasonal transition that is bringing all kinds of events and opportunities for you.

First, I just realized that we neglected to report back to you on the results of our Local Food Sovereignty Resolution campaign on Town Meeting Day. We are grateful to all our terrific local leaders and thrilled that, in all eight communities where the Resolution was taken up, it passed by a wide margin. Here in the Capital City it was 1948 to 461.

On the heels of these good victories, Rural Vermont is partnering with Food for Maine’s Future to invite you and your neighbors to continue the conversation about building sustainable community-based food systems with special film screenings on April 17 of “You Wanted to Be A Farmer: A Discussion of Scale.” This new 30 min. documentary tells the story of Farmer Dan Brown who started the Food Sovereignty movement in New England from his home farm in Blue Hill, Maine. You can get all the details and find out how you can join in below.

Please also continue reading for an IMPORTANT ACTION ALERT on the Right to Know GMO Food Bill.

Here’s to spring (or summer) whenever it decides to return!

Andrea Stander

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE:

VT Right To Know Genetically Engineered Food Act – H.722

With the legislative clock ticking down fast, the House Agriculture Committee has scheduled a PUBLIC HEARING for Thurs. April 12, 6:30-8:30 in Room 11 at the State House. PLEASE HELP US FILL THE STATE HOUSE WITH PEOPLE WHO WANT THE RIGHT TO KNOW WHAT IS IN THEIR FOOD – NOW!

For more information contact Andrea or Robb, or call Rural Vermont at 223-7222.

To stay up to date on this campaign please join over 3300 Vermonters by signing the petition in support of the VT Right To Know GMOs campaign. You can also get up to the minute news by “liking” the campaign’s Facebook page.

The Working Lands Enterprise Investment Bills – H.496 & S.246

GOOD NEWS! After intense negotiations within and between several committees, the House version of this bill, H. 496, was PASSED by the House with a roll call vote of 131-5. The bill as passed includes $2.1 million in funding. Now the debate moves to the Senate.

You can read the latest versions of both bills and also learn more about them on the Vermont Council on Rural Development website.

Rural Vermont supports the ambitious goal of these bills to create greater investment in and focus on the critical role that our working farm and forest lands play in sustaining Vermont and Vermonters. Please contact Andrea or call Rural Vermont at 223-7222 if you would like more information.

Vermont Farm Guest Worker Program – S.238
This bill, which seeks to address issues of justice and fairness for Vermont’s many migrant farm workers, was PASSED by the Senate this past Tuesday and has now moved over to the House Committee on Transportation. There is considerable concern that it may be consigned to a summer study committee. Rural Vermont supports this bill as a matter of human rights and in recognition of its goal to improve living and working conditions for the farm workers who play such a crucial role in VT’s agricultural economy.

>>> “You Wanted to be a Farmer: A Discussion of Scale” –

Film Screenings at various locations around VT (and the country)

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

For two public screenings and a handful of neighborhood screenings, Rural Vermont partners with our friends at Food for Maine’s Future and local allies to share this brand new documentary that exposes the regulatory challenges and barriers that small farms face. Farm and food policy that is blind to size or scale is an issue that many Vermonters can identify with, and this film raises the questions that need to be addressed in pursuit of growing a culture of Vermonters Feeding Vermonters. Come out and watch the film, and join the discussion about where we go from here!

> Co-Sponsored by the Upper Valley Co-op

Upstairs at the Upper Valley Co-op, WHITE RIVER JUNCTION

7 pm

Free & open to the public

> Co-Sponsored by Food Works, & Central VT Food Systems Council

Hayes Room, Kellogg-Hubbard Library, MONTPELIER

6 pm

Free & open to the public

Or take the lead on hosting a screening in your neighborhood! Rural Vermont will provide all the materials you need to pull it off, and hosts get to keep their copy of the dvd! Because April 17th is just around the corner, we have to work quickly, and need all commitments by next Wed, April 4th. If you’re interested or want more info, please email Rural Vermont’s outreach intern CeCe. Please include your phone number in the email!

About the film:

“You Wanted to Be a Farmer: A Discussion of Scale”, a new documentary by No Umbrella Media and the Sap Pail in association with Food for Maine’s Future, profiles Dan and Judy Brown of Gravelwood Farm in Blue Hill, Maine, and the issues surrounding the lawsuit filed against them by the State of Maine and Maine Department of Agriculture, soon after their town was one of six that passed the Local Foods Community Self-Governance Ordinance. The film features “inside-the-barn” interviews with Dan and Judy as well as conversations with their farm patrons. Topics range from the importance of producing food locally to the control over food policy by corporate-influenced government regulatory agencies. “You Wanted to Be a Farmer” is a revealing bottom-up look at food policy that raises important questions about the need for scale-appropriate regulation for neighbors feeding neighbors.

>>> SAVE THE DATE: Rural Vermont’s Annual Celebration
Wednesday, May 16th, 2012
6:30 – 9 pm
the Wilder Center, 2087 Hartford Ave. (Route 5)
WILDER (just north of White River Junction)
free for members; $5-$10 sliding scale for all else

with keynote address by BEN HEWITT: “The Future is in the Dirt: Growing the Culture of Vermonters Feeding Vermonters”

You’re invited to join us for this festive occasion and annual gathering of Rural Vermont supporters! Celebrate Rural Vermont’s recent progress towards Vermonters Feeding Vermonters over potluck food and drink with live and local music. In addition to Ben’s keynote, also expect Rural Vermont’s annual meeting, farm fresh five raffle, awards ceremony, and board elections.

“The Future’s in the Dirt” will be a lively presentation and conversation that digs into the challenges and potential of Vermont’s rapidly growing local foods movement. How can we build healthy, regionalized economies that honor the producers, consumers, and environment? What will it take to ensure a vibrant culture of Vermonters feeding Vermonters? The answers are not always obvious, but the need to find them has never been more urgent.

Stay tuned for more details!
>>> Activist and Volunteer Needs

As a grassroots organization, Rural Vermont relies on the generosity and commitment of volunteers to help us accomplish our goals. Throughout the year we need your help advancing our issues in many ways. Consider working with Rural Vermont to help spread the word about our Vermonters Feeding Vermonters campaign!

Current Volunteer Opportunities:

Right To Know Campaign – As campaign needs are always changing, please stay in touch on ways you can assist us. If you can help make some phone calls or lend a hand at an event or the office, call 223-7222!

Newspaper Clipper Do you read the Newspaper? If so, adopt a newspaper for Rural Vermont! Although we are now in the electronic world, Rural Vermont is still looking for some old-fashioned newspaper clipping. We save articles, letters and stories about our issues for our archives.

Hosts- We are always looking for people to host Rural Vermont events, whether it be a discussion, film, workshop or class. Open up your farm or home and invite your neighbors to learn more about Rural Vermont and Vermonters Feeding Vermonters.

Email Robb, or call 802-223-7222 to get involved today!!!

Join Us!

Rural Vermont communicates with its supporters in a number of ways – email, mail, and phone. To ensure that you’re not missing any important updates, please join the full mailing list here. You can sign up to be a dues-paying member of Rural Vermont by visiting this page.


NewsReview: GMO wars

Proposed ballot initiative and anti-Monsanto rally puts bioengineered foods in the crosshairs
By Jenn Walker
March 22, 2012
Full Article

Fortune 500 corporation Monsanto shut down its local operations last week as protestors, holding signs and taking turns on handheld megaphone, demanded that the GMO giant needs to go.

The Davis rally was in solidarity with a grassroots attempt to shut down Monsanto offices across the globe. Locally, it worked: After catching wind of the planned demonstration, Monsanto employees were directed to avoid work on Friday.

And if the two-day rally is any indicator of a greater phenomenon, as activist Pamm Larry suggested, it’s that there’s an increasing awareness in the country about food production and safety.

The measure, if passed, would require that any food containing genetically engineered ingredients have a label indicating that the product was derived from genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. It would also mandate that foods cannot be labeled “natural” if they have been processed in any way (i.e., canned, cooked, frozen, fermented, etc.).

“People don’t have time to take a college course on what is and isn’t labeled,” she says.

Genetically engineered foods, according to the initiative, are foods in which the genetic makeup has been altered through vitro nucleic acid techniques, cell fusion or hybridization techniques that don’t occur naturally. This includes foods that are genetically engineered to be resistant to pesticides in order to increase crop yields, such as the controversial corn variety created by Dow Chemical that is resistant to the herbicide 2,4-D.

While this initiative will not ban genetically engineered foods, it will allow consumers to make a choice whether or not to buy these foods, Larry says. And, while she did not provide any numbers, she is confident the act will garner enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.

Meanwhile, a committee called Stop the Costly Food Labeling Initiative has cropped up to oppose the ballot-measure effort. This group is backed by the California Farm Bureau Federation, the California Seed Association, the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association and the Council for Biotechnology Information.

The committee cites an analysis released by the state Legislative Analyst’s Office, which estimates that regulation of the measure could cost up to $1 million annually. The LAO further predicts a cost burden for the courts to pursue violations.

The committee also emphasizes the fact that the FDA and medical experts have deemed genetically engineered foods safe for consumption.

But Dr. Glayol Sahba, volunteer signature gatherer and Sacramento family physician, noted that the American Academy of Environmental Medicine called for a moratorium on genetically modified foods in 2009, concluding that “GM foods pose a serious health risk.”

The academy cites several animal studies that have shown health risks related to GMO consumption, including infertility, immune dysregulation, accelerated aging, and changes in the liver, kidney, spleen and gastrointestinal system.

“Transgenic foods have only been around 10 years,” Sahba said. “We need to not expose people [to these foods] when we are not sure of the consequences to people and the environment.”

According to a statewide poll conducted by EMC Research in June of last year, 81 percent of California voters said they would support an initiative that required GMO foods to be labeled. The push for GMO labeling is also gaining momentum around the country; as many as 14 states have attempted to pursue similar measures, including Connecticut, Michigan, Oregon, Washington and Vermont.

Last week, 55 members of Congress signed off on a bicameral letter to the FDA in support of a petition filed by the Center for Food Safety advocating GMO labeling.

Consumers want to see a change in the food system, Larry says, and are demanding transparency.

“People are fired up,” she says. “Many of us in the country have felt powerless for a long time, [but] when we unite we can get something done.”


Addison Independant: Slaughterhouse proposed for Middlebury

By John Flowers
March 22 2012
Full Article

MIDDLEBURY — The owners of Ferrisburgh-based Vermont Livestock (VL) are seeking permission to expand their operation with a new, 11,442-square-foot slaughterhouse and meat-processing facility in Middlebury’s industrial park.

If endorsed by local, state and federal authorities, the new facility could be under construction by May and might be ready to handle animals by this October, according to Carl Cushing, owner/operator of VL.

Backers of the new venture believe it would help beef up a Vermont meat processing industry that is unable to meet the current demands of small- and large-scale farmers. And Cushing confirmed the facility would also provide some hands-on experience for students enrolled in the Patricia Hannaford Career Center’s new meat cutting program.

The career center is located near the proposed site of the Vermont Livestock building, a 5.1-acre parcel at 62 Industrial Ave., across from Beau Ties Ltd.

Vermont Livestock has been operating out of its Depot Street facility — originally built as an icehouse during the early 1900s — in Ferrisburgh for the past half-century. But that town’s difficult clay soils have become a growing problem for on-site wastewater disposal for larger businesses like VL.

The business has been working to upgrade its septic system at the Depot Street property, but in the meantime has also been casting about for another site on which to grow. The Castanea Foundation, a Vermont-based nonprofit organization with a mission to support state agriculture, has been helping VL in its search and expansion efforts.

A project narrative filed by VL with the Middlebury planning offices describes the result of that joint effort.

“As a result of this process, VL and Castanea have determined that expansion at the current Ferrisburgh location is not an ideal solution and that construction of a new modern facility is a prudent step which can help to ensure the long term viability of agricultural enterprises throughout the region.

“After conducting a search throughout northwestern Vermont to identify land available for sale that is appropriately zoned, convenient to a major transportation link and served by municipal water and sewer utilities, VLSP and Castanea (through its subsidiary Esnid, LLC) have decided to proceed with development plans … in Middlebury.”

“Processing in Middlebury and Ferrisburgh would really raise our numbers,” Cushing said. “Unfortunately, right now we have to turn away more business than we can do.”

It is a common lament among the state’s seven (soon to be only six) licensed and inspected meat processing facilities, said Randy Quenneville, meat program section chief for the meat inspection unit of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets.

“(The industry) is already booking into December and next year,” he said of the business backlog.

Quenneville explained that the bottleneck rests on the actual cutting of the meat.

“What they kill in a day takes a week to process,” Quenneville said.

He was pleased to hear about VL’s plans for Middlebury.

“The more (meat processing facilities) we have open, the better,” Quenneville said. “There is definitely a need for more, in my opinion.”

And the state — and county — is poised to get more.

The Addison Independent has learned that yet another slaughterhouse and meat processing facility is in the offing for Addison County.

Local entrepreneur Mark Smith said on Tuesday, “I have been developing a plan for the past two years that is coming together now. It is a different approach to the slaughter and processing industry than Vermont Livestock (is proposing).”

Smith promised to divulge specifics on the facility and its location within the next few weeks.

Vermont Livestock currently has nine full-time workers and two part-timers. While that number would remain the same upon the opening of a Middlebury facility, Cushing anticipated his workforce would grown to 18 full- and part-time employees within three or four years.

In addition to the employees, two full-time United States Department of Agriculture inspectors are on site during regular hours of operation, which now are 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on Saturday. Livestock would initially be delivered to Middlebury one day per week and expanded to two days per week as the operation grows.

Livestock would be delivered into a secured unloading area, typically in 16-foot livestock trailers.

No retail sales from the facility are planned.

Middlebury’s Design Advisory Committee is slated to review VL’s plans on March 23. The proposal is scheduled to come before the Middlebury Development Review Board (DRB) on March 26.


03/16 LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: GOOD NEWS!

Dear Members and Friends,

YOU DID IT! Thank You.

H.722, the bill that will require genetically modified food sold in Vermont to be labeled, IS STILL ALIVE in the State House.

After several long days of compelling testimony and a huge outpouring of public support, House and Senate leaders agreed today to give the bill more time to complete the legislative process. Without this special consideration, the bill would have failed to meet today’s “crossover” deadline.

The latest info we have is that the House Agriculture Committee will be able to continue their work and will likely hold their vote on it within two weeks.

Thank you for taking the time to contact your representatives and helping to turn the tide that was definitely running against the bill as late as this morning.

I was in the House Agriculture Committee room and the greatest thing was to see the State House Pages coming in to deliver a steady stream of pink message slips for Committee Chair Partridge and other members of the Committee. Democracy works!

However, there is still a lot of challenging work to be done – After the Ag Committee votes on it, the bill will then have to pass through the Joint Committee on Rules since they are the ones who granted it a “hall pass” to not have to meet the crossover deadline. The bill may also have to be reviewed by another House Committee before it gets to a House floor vote and then it has to do basically the same series of steps on the Senate side – all by the end of April.

It has been very exciting to see so many people speaking out and taking part in the debate about this bill. It is clear that many, many Vermonters want to have the right to know whether their food has been genetically engineered.

Again, thanks for your support and stay tuned for more news next week on how you can continue to help pass this bill.

For the latest info follow the campaign on Facebook or visit the campaign website VT Right To Know GMOs

Andrea Stander