VTDigger poll shows overwhelming support for GMO labeling law

As much as 80 percent of the processed food sold in Vermont is a product of modern genetic engineering. An overwhelming majority of registered voters in the state want to to know which 80 percent, according to a new public opinion poll conducted for VTDigger.org by the Castleton Polling Institute.

The poll results show 79 percent of respondents support a law to require the labeling of foods that contain genetically modified ingredients. Vermonters’ support for what would be a landmark labeling law surpasses party lines, regional boundaries and differences in age, gender, education and income level.

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Castleton Polling Institute on behalf of VTDigger sampled 682 Vermonters on a range of public policy issues. We will be sharing the results over the next week or so.

Less than 10 percent of any one group is undecided on the issue.

The constituency showing the most opposition to the labeling law is Republicans, at 27 percent. Otherwise, no group reaches 20 percent opposition. Democrats show the least opposition, with just 9 percent.

About 83 percent of Vermonters under age 65 support the bill.

GMO labeling laws have been proposed in more than two dozens other states to date. Connecticut and Maine have passed legislation that would take effect if other states require labeling, too.

Vermont’s proposed law contains no triggers. It would take effect in July 2016.

Lawmakers and administration officials anticipate a lawsuit from industry groups representing biotech companies. The legal question will be one of free speech under the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment. The freedom of expression clause protects free speech, and it also protects against mandated speech.

Opponents argue that the state’s interest in GMO labeling is not sufficient reason to mandate speech (i.e. labeling). Legal arguments related to interstate commerce also are anticipated.

Attorney General Bill Sorrell has said he is ready and willing to defend the law, which he estimates could cost upwards of $1.5 million for a victory. In the event of a loss for the state, a lawsuit could carry a price tag of $5 million to $8 million or more.

Nearly all food intended for human consumption would have to be labeled as possibly containing GMO ingredients. Meat would be exempt because it is already regulated under federal law; states therefore do not have regulatory jurisdiction over meat.

Milk also would be exempted, which has raised questions for Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Sears, D-Bennington. He does not want an appearance of favoritism for the dairy industry. But no scientific link has been shown between genetically modified corn that most cows eat and the milk they produce.

Food sold in restaurants also would not have to be labeled.

Methodology used by Castleton Polling Institute

This report is based on data from 682 interviews drawn from a random sample of registered voters in Vermont. Interviews were conducted by phone by from March 31 to April 7, 2014. Thirteen percent of interviews were conducted with registered voters on cell phones.

For a sample of this size, the margin of error at the 95 percent confidence level is +/-4 percent, although the margin of error is larger for questions involving subsamples of respondents. Although sampling error is only one source of potential survey error, precautions have been taken to minimize other sources of error for this poll.

The data reported are weighted based on estimations of the population of Vermont registered voters to account for differential in response rates among age groups.

Read the full story

Hilary Niles

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46 Comments on "VTDigger poll shows overwhelming support for GMO labeling law"

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boots wardinski
2 years 3 months ago

labeling, who cares? it is meaningless. eat organic and local.

Janice Prindle
2 years 3 months ago
It’s the way I like to eat, but this isn’t an option for everybody, due to access and to finances. And people relying on food assistance often don’t have any choice. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t know what they are eating. So that’s one reason it matters. Another reason is that once GMOs are labelled, people will begin to realize what has happened to our food supply, and there will be a stronger push back against the GMO movement, which I’m sure you know is a major threat to the health of the planet.You might argue that the poll results… Read more »
Jason Wells
2 years 3 months ago

Well there’s the mandate! Rewrite the bill to remove ALL EXEMPTIONS and make it effective in 1 year no more no less.

2 years 3 months ago

I believe in labeling GMO foods. Congressman Welch is totally against this. Remember come November when you vote.
I believe people have the right to know what is in the foods they eat.

Paula Schramm
2 years 3 months ago

Mark,
I wondered about your statement that Rep. Peter Welch is against labeling GMO foods. This didn’t ring true, so I did some checking.

Congressman Welch was a co-sponsor of a bill last year requiring federal labeling of GMOs. Both our Senators co-sponsored the Senate version . Our Congressional delegation is on board with this effort. Remember in November !

http://farmfutures.com/story-bipartisan-bill-introduced-require-fda-labeling-gmos-0-97582

2 years 3 months ago

Congress apparently thinks labeling is pretty important, since they are now moving to ban ALL STATES from passing labeling laws re GMOs.–likely under their Commerce Clause powers.

So Monsanto must also consider labeling important since they are behind the
move in Congress.

My experience has been that the entire VT Congressional delegation is very much in Monsanto’s pocket btw….

What say you, Boots?

2LT Dennis Morrisseau USArmy [armor – Vietnam era] retired. dmorso1[at]netzero.net
645 9727 West Pawlet, VT

Paula Schramm
2 years 3 months ago
More specifically, it’s Kansas Rep. Mike Pompano who has introduced this bill . http://af.reuters.com/article/commoditiesNews/idAFL2N0N11PP20140409 Rep.Mike Pompeo, is a piece of work : oil businessman & climate-change denier ( of course ) and gets a lot of Koch Bros. support: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Pompeo He served in the Army, got a Harvard Law degree, was editor of the Harvard Law Review – just like Obama – and then went into business : “Pompeo founded Thayer Aerospace.He sold his interest in Thayer in 2006 and the company is now known as Nex-Tech Aerospace. Pompeo ran Thayer Aerospace with investment funds from Koch Industries. The Wichita… Read more »
Paula Schramm
2 years 3 months ago

From Ray Giroux’s link below on Rep. Pompano’s bill there is even more information making the connections, including Koch Industries relationship with the Grocery Manufacturers Association, who are big opponents of GMO labeling :

“Koch Industries’ subsidiary, Georgia-Pacific, is also a member of the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

“GMA’s selection of Congressman Pompeo as their champion shows how extreme the proposal really is,” said Colin O’Neil, director of government affairs for the Center for Food Safety. “Selecting Pompeo creates an unholy alliance between Monsanto and Koch Industries, two of the most reviled corporations in America.”

2 years 3 months ago

Our Lawmakers better hurry. Monsanto will make it illegal to label GMOs – thru Congress!

http://rt.com/usa/gmo-labeling-koch-monsanto-249/

Paula Schramm
2 years 3 months ago

Thanks for this link , Ray.
Pretty interesting…

John McClaughry
2 years 3 months ago

I have never understood why legislators are demanding GMO labeling, when all they need is “GMO-Free” labeling. I suspect the “GMO free” producers can’t honestly declare that their products have no GMO contents, so they are trying to get the government to impose an enormous burden on the hated (by them) biotech industry. Can somebody enlighten me on this?
I grew up in Illinois corn country, and thank God for genetically modified corn.

Sean Costello
2 years 3 months ago

Enormous burden? When they update the label for “best used by”, they can simply add GMO or not. Some burden.

Glenn Thompson
2 years 3 months ago
Sean Costello, Given the fact a large % of major food crops including the likes of Corn, Soybeans, etc, are GMO modified and then given the fact if one looks at the ingredient list of processed foods….it does become an enormous burden to determine where the food originates from and then certify it is 100% GMO free! Not only would the process become complex, but also time consuming and expensive which would lead to higher food prices! I agree with John McClaughry on the “GMO-Free” labeling. I’m starting to see products on the shelves that are labeled “GMO-Free”….so unless it… Read more »
Paula Schramm
2 years 3 months ago

Right, put the “burden” , such as it is, on the people who don’t use GMO foods in their product.
We shouldn’t expect labels for ” fructose” or “salt” or “hydrogenated oil”ingredients. We can just ask all the manufacturers who DON’T use them to put “fructose-free”, “salt-free” and “hydrogenated oil-free”on their packages. We should demand all produce that isn’t genetically -modified to have labels “not GMO”.
So much easier than just labeling the actual ingredients of the product on the package…

Janice Prindle
2 years 3 months ago
That could be your problem, maybe? Why not enlighten yourself by doing a little research into the issue — and ask yourself why the European Union and dozens of other nations require this labeling? Are they all stupid? Can you draw any conclusions between the official U.S. stance that it doesn’t even “need” to undertake any long term testing of the safety of GMO foods, and the personal connections between the USDA food policy directors and Monsanto corporate leadership — the very same individuals, shuttling back and forth between the public and the private positions over the course of a… Read more »
Steve Comeau
2 years 3 months ago
John, The product weight or volume needs to be on a food package and the ingredients. Identifying a product as containing GMOs is just a clarification of the product which allows the purchaser to may informed decision when buying. They can ignore it or not, but apparently many people feel it is useful to know what they are eating, which seems pretty reasonable. The free market works best when consumers can make informed decisions. Note that GMOs are not the natural state of food, so it makes sense that the the food with the GMO declares that it has GMO.… Read more »
Paula Schramm
2 years 3 months ago

If people feel grateful for GMO corn, then it puzzling to me why they wouldn’t want to proudly label it, rather than insist on keeping it a secret.

Roger Hill
2 years 3 months ago

Kind of funny how THREATENING” putting a label on something is, isn’t? That should speak volumes. With this poll, it certainly does. Maybe some might want to outlaw knowledge, polling?

Paula Schramm
2 years 3 months ago

“I grew up in Illinois corn country, and thank God for genetically modified corn.”

If people feel grateful for GMO corn, then you would think they’d be proud to label it, rather than insisting on keeping it a secret.

Deb Tyson
2 years 3 months ago
Do this NOW, not later, this is VT we do not back down and we do take a stand. This food is poison to our families and children. Shop the local butchers and farm stands .. health food stores for milk. To even think we would modify food in this way , is genocide of the poor as well. This needs to end now. When you eat healthy and buy healthy, it will also cost less at doctors and pharmacies . However, farm stands and local producers must also take into consideration the pricing, alot of people cannot afford this… Read more »
James Maroney
2 years 3 months ago
In Int’l Dairy Foods Ass’n. Vermont built its case upon the assertion of a “substantial interest” in an rBST disclosure law. But the court ruled against Vermont, noting that it had not “adopted those concerns,” and sought only to satisfy “consumer curiosity.” Had Vermont, in the years prior to passing a law requiring that milk from cows treated with rBST was injurious to consumers and should therefore be labeled, repudiated the kind of farming that permits the application of 80M lbs of petroleum-based, artificial fertilizer to land in the annual flood plain, that pollutes the lake and prevents the state… Read more »
walter judge
2 years 3 months ago

The comment above is an example of the GMO labeling movement being a product of food-elitism by wealthy people. The world’s poor, including most of the US population, cannot afford to shop for their food at “Wealthy Living” so they can feel good about themselves.

It is also an example of blatant misinformation. There is not a single credible study that would justify calling GMO food “poison.” And the use of terms like “genocide” is completely irresponsible.

Janice Prindle
2 years 3 months ago
Mr. Judge, There are plenty of studies, which have certainly convinced the European Union and dozens of other nations. The reason the U.S. government hasn’t studied this extensively is because the leading chemical company behind GMOs, Monsanto, has its corporate leaders taking food policy positions at the USDA and so the agency has declined to study it, accepting the company’s own claims;Monsanto has its contracts with farmers forbidding any use of GMO seeds for research; and Monsanto with its allies controls research decisions at our land-grant colleges and universities. See the report “Public Research, Private Gain” from the independent nonprofit… Read more »
Walter Judge
2 years 3 months ago
Ms. Prindle, 1. Please identify a single peer-reviewed study. 2. It’s distressing to see the extent to which your beliefs are shaped by conspiracy theories. 3. I stand by my comment that the GMO food labeling campaign is driven by the food elitism of wealthy, white liberals who want to control what and how everyone else should eat. The working class and the poor can’t afford to, and don’t want to, shop at and pay Wealthy Living and Whole Paycheck prices. The GMO labeling movement does nothing to address making healthy food affordable for poor people. It just makes wealthy… Read more »
victor ialeggio
2 years 3 months ago

just a wild guess–but I’m thinking that requiring “GMO-free” labeling would affect a much (much) smaller group of producers & manufacturers and therefore be more likely construed as unfair and/or prejudicial — which could conceivably result in a stronger case arguing such labeling to be “compelled speech” under first amendment guarantees….

(how’s that for fence-sitting?)

Catherine Cadden
2 years 3 months ago
Why should the local food creators have to bear the expense of getting an expensive organic label to protect the large biotech industry? We have the right to choose what we buy. We have the right to know what is in the products we buy, and particularly so we can support our local food industries. I want to support our local Vermont food industry and if we do not have proper labeling that lets me know that there is something genetically altered in the ingredients then that means all products that do not have the expensive organic labels are out… Read more »
Robert Wager
2 years 3 months ago

If the real question was asked (There are zero health issues with food derived from GE crops according to all world food safety experts. Are you willing to pay ~10% more for all food in order to pay for GE specific labeling of food?)

Try it and I bet the percentages go completely the opposite way.

Catherine Cadden
2 years 3 months ago

We already pay for the biotech food as it is subsidized by the federal government out of our taxes. I, as a consumer who pays her taxes, minimally deserve the ease of buying food products that have a clear label on it letting me know there is genetically engineered ingredients in it – seeing how I have already paid for those farmers and producers to get to use genetically altered material.

Paula Schramm
2 years 3 months ago

“There are zero health issues with food derived from GE crops according to all world food safety experts”.

This is just not true. There are many studies indicating potential health issues that should be studied further through extensive, long-term, independent research. There is no scientific consensus on the safety of GMO foods, and they have not been proven to be harmless.

Doug Hoffer
2 years 3 months ago
Mr. Wager You suggested that GMO labelling might add 10% to the cost of food. That seemed a bit high so I checked around. According to the Economic Research Service of the USDA, packaging represents 4% of each food dollar. Presumably, adding a few words to a label would be a modest change, but let’s be generous and assume it would increase the cost of packaging by 10%. Ten percent of 4% = 0.4%. That means a product that cost $10.00 would rise to $10.04. That’s a four cent increase on a ten dollar item. I’m guessing that wouldn’t change… Read more »
Michael Colby
2 years 3 months ago

Labeling initiatives are the perfect metaphor for today’s liberals: Feeling good about doing little.

Paula Schramm
2 years 3 months ago

“Feeling good about doing little.”

If labeling GMOs in our food was truly “doing little” , the bio-tech industries would not be fighting it so hard.

Walter Judge
2 years 3 months ago

I agree with Mr. Wager.

This article does not say exactly which question(s) was asked and how it was phrased.

If the question asked:

1. “Would you support mandatory GMO labeling if it meant that food prices would rise an average of $10%?”

OR

2. “Would you support mandatory GMO labeling if it meant that Vermont would be sued and the taxpayers might have to pay $5 million or $10 million in lawyers’ fees?”

I believe the percentages would be very different.

David Zuckerman
2 years 3 months ago
Lets be sure that all sides are not creating false impressions. 1) There are studies that show their may be a risk to consuming GMO’s. It is not definitive, and more studies clearly need to be done. The reason for labeling is to allow people who do not want to be part of the human study to “opt out”. Another reason for labeling is so that when we observe digestive and other ailments in large populations of people, scientists can ascertain what they were eating and start to put the puzzle together. 2) There is no evidence that non GMO… Read more »
James Maroney
2 years 3 months ago

http://rt.com/news/russia-import-gmo-products-621/
“Russia will not import GMO products, the country’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said, adding that the nation has enough space and resources to produce organic food.
Moscow has no reason to encourage the production of genetically modified products or import them into the country, Medvedev told a congress of deputies from rural settlements on Saturday.
“If the Americans like to eat GMO products, let them eat it then. We don’t need to do that; we have enough space and opportunities to produce organic food,” he said.”
I wonder how this information impacts the debate?

Paula Schramm
2 years 3 months ago

Sen. Zuckerman – Thank you very much for your clear and level-headed advocacy for this bill. Your hard work and willingness to explain the issues is greatly appreciated.

Jesse Wiens
2 years 3 months ago
Mr. Wager and Mr. Judge, Where are you getting the figure that mandatory GE labeling would cause food prices to rise “an average of 10%”? I haven’t heard that from any reputable source – but I’m willing to look at whatever source you’re willing to name. Until then, I’m going to call bulls**t on that one. Whatever one may think of Ben and Jerry’s, one of their reps was clear in saying that based on their company’s own considerable experience, the change would cause next to nothing and that changing labels was a standard cost of doing business that companies… Read more »
Lance Hagen
2 years 3 months ago

At the end of the day after all this posturing, the net Is, we will have less selection and higher prices for food.

Tiki Archambeau
2 years 3 months ago

FYI: You’re paying for it one way or another (health care, crop subsidies, “R&D”). Most of us choose not to be lab rats for GMOs where not nearly enough safety testing has been completed.

2 years 3 months ago
Meat and Dairy would be exempt, also Restaurant food. So, along with “Brand Name foods” (you know, your club card from the grocery store that only give you a discount if you buy their brand) which are all hooked up with GMO, will still be coming to Vermont. Seems like this is is not going to impact anyone except, quick stops, corporate grocery and maybe food co-ops. The more I think about this the more I feel this bill is a limp wristed feel good policy. I don’t feel it will do much for the majority of Vermonters – low… Read more »
Paula Schramm
2 years 3 months ago

“a limp wristed feel good policy ”

This bill does not wave a magic wand that fixes all the things we may feel are wrong with our food system in this country. But of course, look deeper and keep working.

What this bill does is establish that people have the simple right to know what ingredients are in their food, to help them make more informed choices.

Pretty basic.

Pretty common sense.

Pretty important, especially if some producer doesn’t want you to have this right.

David Zuckerman
2 years 3 months ago

Brand name foods will need to be labeled. Not sure where you read that exemption. Low income people will have the same information as everyone else.

As for restaurant food…a frozen pizza purchased in a grocery store has all kinds of labeling and consumer information requirements. A pizza at Domino’s or Leonardo’s or Pizza Hut does not. We are remaining consistent with other state and federal laws in this regard.

Moshe Braner
2 years 3 months ago

I’m all for labeling, but alas, in the current environment of the Federal court system, Vermont doesn’t stand much chance with such a law. For example, this news just in:

“A U.S. appeals court delivered a blow to human rights groups on Monday, after ruling that a new regulation forcing companies to disclose if their products contain certain “conflict minerals” from a war-torn part of Africa may violate free speech rights.”

http://us.mobile.reuters.com/article/domesticNews/idUSBREA3D13U20140414

Glenn Thompson
2 years 3 months ago
From the article! “Attorney General Bill Sorrell has said he is ready and willing to defend the law, which he estimates could cost upwards of $1.5 million for a victory. In the event of a loss for the state, a lawsuit could carry a price tag of $5 million to $8 million or more.” And here lies the problem. Considering the fact there are countless food products on the market that are nationally distributed…if there is going to be a GMO labeling law….it needs to come from the federal level….not the state level! I agree, the chances of winning in… Read more »
walter judge
2 years 3 months ago
AG Sorrell says that a lawsuit against Vermont is virtually inevitable with the current labeling bill; that it will cost $1-2 million just to defend; and that we may have to pay $5-10 million for the food industry’s legal fees if we lose. I am troubled that the pro-labeling advocates feel no hesitation in forcing me and my family to pay serious money to defend an inevitable lawsuit that the state will probably lose (just like rBST), because of a policy agenda that is based on fear and anti-corporatism, with no support in science. A multi-state trigger would it least… Read more »
2 years 3 months ago
It’s already been done – you can graft beer hops with marijuana. The next step is genetically modifying and genetically engineering beer hops with marijuana, so the resulting plant still looks like beer hops (a plant used to make beer) and you can create a beverage sold as mighty tasty “beer” with brilliant overtones and swill value so long as there is no federal GMO labelling law; right? Well, there certainly is argument about that on the internet now. Why bother to worry about making marijuana legal when you can just totally disguise it by genetically modifying and genetically engineering… Read more »
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