Vermont passes GMO-labeling law



by Catherine Haug, April 30. 2014 (image, right, used with permission from the  Organic Consumers Association)

This is a HUGE victory for those of us who want to know what’s in our food, and what we are feeding our families. This bill is the first in the US to provide a clear choice, because Vermont (unlike its neighbors Connecticut and Maine) decided not to include a “trigger” provision in its bill. As soon as the governor signs the bill into law, Vermont will immediately move forward with the labeling of GMO products.

Please take a moment to cheer and celebrate this victory.

Next up:

  • Oregon will vote on their new GMO Labeling Initiative in 2014. Oregon’s prior attempt in 2002 went down to defeat, but a lot has changed since then. The measure would mandate the labeling of certain foodstuffs that were produced with or contain genetically modified organisms. See Oregon Right to Know (1) and GMO-Free Oregon (2) for more.
  • Colorado, also in 2014. The measure would require any “prepackaged, processed food or raw agricultural commodity that has been produced using genetic modification would need to bear the label: ‘Produced with genetic engineering.'” The law would be put into effect by January 1, 2016.

Want to know how Monsanto, et al., have successfully kept previous attempts by Oregon, California and Washington from being passed? Read on…

Pulling the Wool over Your Eyes

It is believed that a rising majority of Americans want to know what’s in their food, and most of them want to see GMO’s labeled. So why has it been difficult to pass mandatory GMO labeling laws in the western states?

The number one winning issue for Bio-Tech is price 

If they can convince a majority of voters that mandating labeling will significantly raise the cost of food, people will vote it down. Bio-Tech maintains the cost of keeping track of the source of ingredients in foods – to know which are GMO and which are not, especially after processing those ingredients – would be too much for the market to bear.

What they don’t tell you is that once the shopper sees “contains GMO” on the label, the shopper won’t buy it. The stores won’t buy it. And that puts the cost burden back on the food producer (and ultimately on the bio-tech company), not the consumer.

The people of Vermont saw through this price ruse, and so can the voters in Western states.

Other techniques used to sway the consumer

The Alliance for Natural Health (ANH) recently published an article, Selling Junk Science, that analyzes how Big Pharma convinces the average person – as well as legislators and the media – that their way is the best way. Now, don’t get me wrong, I believe pharmaceuticals have their place, but the advertising and ultimate sale of unproven and potentially harmful drugs to the masse, including people who probably don’t need them, is wrong. The selling of drugs that are known to be harmful is even worse.

And yet, they get away with it.

Big Ag and the bio-technology companies use similar techniques to convince voters to vote against GMO labeling. As a scientist myself, I am furious. In the discussion that follows, I refer to Big Pharma, Big Ag, and Big Bio-Tech collectively as Big Biz, for simplicity.

  • Publication bias: Big Biz ensures published research that goes against their interests don’t reach the eyes of the average person, while studies that may support their position are lauded, and cited as proof that GMOs are not harmful.
  • “Seeding” trials; ghostwritten studies: Seeding involves disguising marketing schemes as legitimate research; test subjects are handpicked, the data are gathered by the manufacturer, and the biased results published under the name of a physician’s name. The results of such biased trials and research are then fed to the media.
  • Cherry-picking conclusions: This is related to publication bias. From my experience, nearly every research project yields more than one conclusion; and often these possible conclusions contradict each other. Big Biz together with Big Media choose the conclusion that supports their needs and gain the most readership.
  • Skewed meta-analysis: This is a biggie, probably because the average person does’t know what a meta-analysis is, and cannot recognize it as such when published in media designed to reach the masses. A meta-analysis is not unique research, but rather the combing of data from prior research looking for patterns. Those patterns can then be cherry-picked to the desired bias for publication. Not all meta-analysis is biased, but that used by Big Biz to get general acceptance of their products is highly likely to be biased. The ANH article describes this problem:

“When done correctly, they can help researchers draw comprehensive conclusions from a large, diverse body of data. However, the integrity of a meta-analysis can easily be compromised: researchers may distort results by ignoring studies that don’t agree with their hypotheses, all while hiding behind the authoritative façade of meta-analysis.”

  • Overly brief study periods: Every potential study has a realistic starting point and stopping point. But shortening this realistic period is a way of skewing the data to the desired bias. Many health problems take years to develop and become noticeable; lifetime studies would reveal this, so Big Biz shortens the study time to end before the problems would naturally appear. From the ANH article:

“This is a great way to trim unwanted data, or avoid reporting undesirable health effects—for example, the hundreds of studies claiming GMOs are safe focus only on very short-term exposure; the effects of long-term exposure remains unstudied. Animal studies suggest that GMOs could have epigenetic effects that may even take generations to appear.”

See my earlier article: The Third Generation & Health.

  • Parroting press releases: A main goal of media is to be the first to “get the scoop” on any news item- including medical studies. But often, in order to beat the competitor at this game, a media outlet will simply regurgitate the study’s press release (which says what Big Biz, or the researcher allied with Big Biz, wants them to say) instead of spending time on independent analysis and research. In this way, biased text replaces independent opinion.


  1. Oregon Right To Know (
  2. GMO-Free Oregon (
  3. Selling Junk Science (


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