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Monsanto Threatens to Sue over GMO Labeling in Vermont

Christina Sarich
March 25th, 2014
Updated 05/06/2014 at 4:36 pm
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gmo labeling vermont 263x164 Monsanto Threatens to Sue over GMO Labeling in VermontThe citizens of Vermont want GMO foods to be labeled. As NaturalSociety’s Anthony Gucciardi reported in 2013, a bill which has already passed the House awaits a final O.K. by the Senate. If Monsanto gets their way though, as made evident in heated testimony given at the Statehouse this past Wednesday before a Judiciary Committee, not only will the bill get stalled in the Senate, but Monsanto points to the fact that the state will have to spend around a million dollars just to defend the bill in court.

You can guess who is on Monsanto’s latest pay-roll. Sen. Dick Sears, D-Bennington, chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee warned that, although he ‘supports a labeling bill’, he feels that there are potential litigation costs which could hinder state finances. He also mentions that dairy would also be excluded from the bill, but currently there is no GMO dairy in Vermont.

Agreeing with Monsanto’s interests and testifying that the new law would have to be defended is Assistant Attorney General Bridget Asay, stating that even if the state was successful in passing a GMO-labeling bill, the legal challenge could end up costing more than $5 million, and the state would not be able to recover legal fees. She estimates that the total cost would include potential reimbursement for a victorious plaintiff – Monsanto, Dow, Syngenta, and their poison-filled coffers.

The ‘expert’ testimony arguing against the labeling law likely did not include the potential costs if genetically modified organisms are allowed to continue to run rampant in our food supply – including costs to organic farmers, and the possibility that just three companies could end up owning the seed rights to just about every food we eat, once they are genetically modified and have cross-pollinated non-GMO crops.

Potential amendments to the bill could include:

1. The requirement a legal defense fund to cover the costs of litigation started by Big Ag companies, and;

2. An exemption of dairy for fear that it might undermine the bill’s passing or viability in court.

Attorney General Bill Sorrell’s is concerned about a proposal to pass the bill with one exception: if a privately funded legal defense fund would be established to cover the expense of legal challenges.

“Quite frankly that boxes us in,” Sears told Asay at the hearing. He said he thinks it would be irresponsible to set the state up for a potentially costly lawsuit without setting aside the money to pay for it.

Sen. Jeanette White, D-Windham, said she’s troubled by the prospect of setting a precedent for supporting only what can be backed by wealthy interests. The legal defense fund idea was not part of the Senate Agriculture bill, Sears acknowledged after the hearing, but he said that doesn’t mean the idea can’t be revisited.

How might Big Ag fight the bill legally? A potential lawsuit would possibly be based on several legal arguments: First Amendment rights and protections against compelled speech, “equal protection” laws, rules prohibiting conflict between state and federal laws, and the so-called “dormant commerce clause” saying states can’t make laws that will have an adverse impact on interstate commerce.

Where our rights not to be poisoned to death come in, should be an equal concern to any attorney fighting a potential case. How about a counter suit for murder, and billions of dollars in pain and suffering fees to people who are dying of kidney failure, and cancer, or having reproductive challenges due to GMO crops? These politicians need to stop worrying about Monsanto and Big Ag’s threats and take care of the people that put them in office, otherwise, they will be looking for new jobs come next election.

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  • rh

    Monsanto will just buy the judge.

  • Loren Carle

    what about boycotting potential legal proceedings altogether. Honestly, what are they going to do? Whose army will they send in?

  • kalisiin

    If we have nothing to fear from GMO’s…and if the are really totally harmless…why does Monsanto so strongly object to GMO’s being labelled as such?

    Usuaully when a corporation tries to hide something…it means that it is information they don’t want you to have – and probably because if you had the information, you would make other choices.

    Generally, a corporation does not try to suppress information about something that is totally and completely harmless!

    • someonecares2

      “why does Monsanto so strongly object to GMO’s being labelled as such?” I can’t say for sure, but it probably has something to do with the fact that there is no sane reason for labelling GMO’s. There is nothing to hide, the overwhelming majority of scientific studies demonstrate that GM food crops are just as safe as their non-GM counterparts. This information is readily available to anyone, and especially easy to find if you have internet access. Aside from that, one reason that labelling is a bad idea is that public policy should not be dictated by a vocal minority who are either unwilling or unable to understand the fact that the safety of GMO’s has been repeatedly. consistently and authoritatively demonstrated by both industry and independent scientists across the globe for decades.

      • kalisiin

        Oh yeah? That so? How about all the drugs the FDA approves…and then we later find out have horrible side effects? Just as an example ACTOS…the diabetes drug was later shown to cause bladder cancer – and here’s the rub…the company that makes Actos…KNEW it caused bladder cancer AND HID THIS FACT…in order to gain FDA approval.

        It is easy for any shady group with connections to CLAIM to be “independent” and commission a study which produces the answers that those who financed the study wanted to get.

        AGAIN….if they are SO HARMLESS….then what in the hell is the problem Monsanto has with labelling them GMO’s…so that THOSE OF US WHO DO NOT WANT TO CONSUME GMO’s…have control over our own bodies and what goes into them…and can make informed consumer decisions. It is obvious to me that Monsanto has NO INTEREST in their consumers being at all educated…or having any choice, for that matter.

        Oh, and giving ME the choice to be an informed consumer…and decide for myself what goes into my body…IS a “sane reason” for labelling GMO’s. Or are you telling me that I should have no right to decide these things for myself…that Monsanto’s “right” to gigantic profits…trumps MY right to be an informed consumer, and MY right to decide for myself what goes into my body?

        • someonecares2

          “How about all the drugs the FDA approves…and then we later find out have horrible side effects?” Yes, bad things have happened in the past. Ford Pinto’s used to burst into flames and all the doors would lock. And Ford knew it! Do we now protest against Ford? There is no credible evidence that GM foods are less safe than non-GM. The independent scientists I speak about are verifiable non-aligned and demonstrably non-influenced by anyone.

          This is not conspiracy, it is a vast field of repeatable, testable, verifiable, science that is open to examination, peer reviewed by experts in a wide range of specialties. I mentioned one problem of labeling above.

          Everyone can choose to consume organic food, so your argument about choice doesn’t work. Everyone can be an informed consumer, but evidently many people choose not to learn what can be easily found out, that GM foods are not harmful to humans. I did no such thing as telling you that you have no rights. As above, you can choose to follow an organic diet if that is what you want.

          It is wise to understand that one can oppose corporations and still recognize the truth about GM technology. It is sad that many cannot, or will not do so. I personally favor very left leaning politics, and work as an activist in a major city covering many issues in order to challenge unjust corporate influences and the corrupting effects they have on politics and society. Still, I have taken the time to examine the realities of GM foods, and discovered that the anti-GM crowd is quite misguided.

          Also, there is nothing wrong with organic foods, in fact I would prefer a society that is as vegetarian as possible. And I recognize that real farming that feeds nations requires the use of pesticides and herbicides. These things are very well regulated, fear tactics about health risks are not in alignment with reality. GM is just one tool for the future of feeding our planet, organics have their important contributions as well.

          There are masses of highly educated people armed with powerful tools working on these issues, people who understand the realities of these issues. There is no hidden poisoning going on, if there were, everyone would be seeing it in hospitals and doctors would be screaming.

          The science on these things are clear. I respect your sentiments, but the sooner the left stops believing these untrue myths, the sooner they can get on to making progress in the world. If you would like to learn more, here is one resource (by independent scientists with no ties to industry); or if you prefer another source, you could listen to Mark Lynas discuss the issue:

          If you have significant credible evidence that demonstrates that my brief outline above is an incorrect assessment, please inform me.

  • Glynn Young

    Monsanto has not threatened to sue the state of Vermont. You should check your facts before publishing.

  • Lawrence NIghtengale

    You need to get your facts straight before spreading untruths! I have personally been in contact with Senator Sears to ask him about the following statement.

    “You can guess who is on Monsanto’s latest pay-roll. Sen. Dick Sears,
    D-Bennington, chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee warned that,
    although he ‘supports a labeling bill’, he feels that there are
    potential litigation costs which could hinder state finances. He also
    mentions that dairy would also be excluded from the bill, but currently
    there is no GMO dairy in Vermont.”

    This was his response:

    “I chair the Vermont Senate Judiciary Committee, we supported the bill 5-0, I voted for the bill every opportunity I had. I worked to make the bill stronger and received accolades from the advocates for the bill.”

    I’m glad I contacted this Senator before re-posting your article! I can tell you I won’t be reading your articles anymore, they can’t be trusted!

  • WitchWay

    It is way past time to get a Class Action lawsuit started here in the USA against them and their products, not just the GMO seeds/foods but also for the pesticides that have been proven to cause kidney failure. If enough people got a blood test that showed heightened amounts of the chemicals that are found in the foods that have been sprayed with RoundUp – maybe we could prove that we ARE being systematically poisoned.

  • James

    It is a well known fact that Anyone can sue for anything at anytime, no matter how large or small. Taking that idea one step further, if Monsanto sues Vermont which is in actuality sueing the good people of Vermont then the people need to counter sue for billions of dollars, not millions literally billions, Monsanto is trying to kill us all and the planet earth by polluting the plants, animals and people with deadly GMO’s. I would like the to see the good people of Vermont set a precedent for the USA and the rest of the world that if we need to sue to stop Monsanto then so be it!!!

    • freethedacks

      jury nullification is the answer. The people can kill Monsanto right in the court room if they all stand together.

      • Loren Carle

        Do it!

    • timothyprice

      What amount should Vermont sue Monsanto for? How much is that corporation valued for..the entire company, its international operations, its stock, it assets? Double that amount… should be about right.

  • Ann

    And they call America “The Land of the Free”??????????
    The citizens of the U.S.A. have the right to reject poison that is being forced down our throats.
    They should not only label GMO’s — They should STOP Mansanto and all the other demonic organizations from genetically modifying our foods.
    Enough is Enough! Whatever it takes — MonSatan and all the other demons have to be STOPPED and STOPPED NOW!

  • pcakes

    Global March Against Monsanto – Saturday, May 24, 2014. Google it (can’t post link) to find the event nearest you and join millions worldwide marching to take back our food!!

  • Undecider

    Bring it on!