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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Vermont' Category


23
Mar

Vermont House Votes to Authorize State Regulation of “Treated Articles,” such as Neonic-Coated Seeds

(Beyond Pesticides March 23, 2016) Last week, the Vermont House of Representatives passed a bill that authorizes state  regulation of pesticide-treated products,  including  telephone poles and coated seeds, that are exempt from federal pesticide regulations. H.861 is the latest in a string of laws introduced this legislative session in Vermont to address the impact of harmful neonicotinoid insecticides  on Vermont’s ecology and agriculture, and symbolizes a concentrated effort by the legislature to reverse pollinator declines within the state. If passed by the Senate and signed by the governor, the bill will  allow the Secretary of Agriculture to regulate above and beyond current federal laws, which exempt treated articles from regulation completely, and write appropriate rules in response to recommendations from a state Pollinator Protection Committee. The bill, which passed with wide support in the House, gives the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets the authority to regulate “treated articles,” a term coined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to denote products treated with pesticides, such as utility poles, commercial crop seeds, and lumber. Traditionally, EPA gives rulemaking authority over pesticides to states, but that authority does not extend to products pre-treated with pesticides, which, until this point, has posed […]

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30
Apr

Vermont Wins Legal Challenge to Its GE Labeling Law

(Beyond Pesticides, April 30, 2015) On Monday, a U.S. District Court Judge for the District of Vermont found that the state’s genetically engineered food (GE) labeling law, Act 120, is constitutional under the First Amendment, and thus rejected the motion to stop its implementation. The legal challenge  was brought by the same industrial food companies  —Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA), Snack Food Association, International Dairy Foods Association, and National Association of Manufacturers  — that  had poured money into defeating the measure, before it overwhelmingly passed in the state legislature. The judge also dismissed a number of the plaintiffs’ claims, including assertions that the law violates the commerce clause and was expressly preempted by federal law. Read the full text of the decision here. Andrea Stander, executive director of Rural Vermont noted, “This decision by the federal court is a strong validation of the three long years that Vermonters worked tirelessly to pass the GMO Food Labeling Bill. We are one step closer to securing our right to know if GMOs are in our food.” Despite overwhelming support for  the passage by the state legislature last year, Act 120, which was the first of its kind in the nation, was met […]

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17
Oct

GMO Labeling Movement Marches Forward with Vermont Release of Draft Rules

(Beyond Pesticides, October 17, 2014) The Vermont Attorney General’s Office, as part of a continuous effort to label genetically modified organisms (GMO) and increase transparency for consumers, released a draft of the rules written to govern the state’s law to require the labeling of food produced with genetic engineering. The nine page rulemaking, describe a range of issues, from the definition of “food” and “genetic engineering” to the required disclosures that will read “Produced with Genetic Engineering” or “Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering.” The attorney general’s office has scheduled three public hearings for next week to give the public the opportunity to comment on the law. Members of the public can also submit a comment via email. Attorney General William Sorrell said his office is moving to write the rules as quickly as possible so that the industry can prepare before the law takes effect in 2016. The law, which was signed by Governor Peter Shumlin in May and is the first of its kind in the nation, has been met with substantial backlash. The state is  currently involved in a legal battle  by  major trade associations, including Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA). In  a statement, GMA has called the […]

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11
Aug

Vermont Law School Becomes First BEE Protective Campus!

(Beyond Pesticides, August 11, 2014) Vermont Law School announced Friday that its campus is going neonicotinoid pesticide-free, making it the first higher-education campus in the country to earn official recognition from the  BEE Protective Campaign, led by Beyond Pesticides and Center for Food Safety. The university joins an expanding list of communities across the country to take action to protect pollinators in the absence of federal regulation, including Eugene, OR,   Spokane, WA, and most recently, Shorewood, Minnesota. “We are very pleased that Vermont Law School has taken the lead on going neonic-free, and hope other universities and communities will follow suit,” said Nichelle Harriott, Senior Staff Scientist at Beyond Pesticides. Neonicotinoids are a class of insecticides that share a common mode of action that affect the central nervous system of insects, resulting in paralysis and death. These systemic pesticides, which  move through the plant’s vascular system and express themselves through pollen and nectar,  include imidacloprid, acetamiprid, clothianidin, dinotefuran, nithiazine, thiacloprid and thiamethoxam. A growing body of science has implicated neonicotinoids, which are applied to or  incorporated into seeds for agricultural, ornamental  and garden plants, as a key factor in recent global bee die-offs. Beekeepers across the country reported losses […]

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11
Jun

Vermont Prepared for Challenges to GE Labeling Law

(Beyond Pesticides, June 11, 2014) Vermont is currently gearing up to defend against possible litigation its groundbreaking law to label genetically engineered (GE) food ingredients. The law, which is the first of its kind in the nation, was specially written so that it created  the Food Fight Fund that allows individuals to donate to defend the law if it were to be challenged in court. The Vermont law and polling data  show that consumers strongly want to know what is going into their food and are willing to stand up to industries that do not want consumers to have this right. As of the first week of June, the  Food Fight Fund raised just over $15,000, with over $$9,000 of it coming from outside the state. Most of the donations come in small amounts of less than $50, which is indicative of the grassroots structure of the GE labeling movement. The fund will be the initial money used by the Vermont attorney general’s office if the state’s GE labeling law is challenged in court. Currently, the $15,000 is not  enough funds to cover legal fees to  defend this law. Lawsuits brought against the state, according to testimony by Assistant Attorney […]

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24
Apr

France Bans GE Corn Cultivation, VT Passes GE Food Labeling Bill

(Beyond Pesticides, April 24, 2014) France’s lower house of parliament passed a bill last week banning the cultivation of all strains of genetically engineered (GE) corn within its borders, even those strains that might not yet be approved within the European Union (EU). The law follows a decree adopted last month, which targeted the only GE crop permitted for cultivation in the EU””Monsanto’s insect-resistant MON810 corn. Back in the U.S., Vermont became the first state to pass a  bill requiring the labeling of food containing GE ingredients  (You can read the House bill as it was introduced here and the Senate amendments to this bill here). The bill, which the Governor said he will sign, passed by large majorities in both houses of the legislature and does not contain a trigger provision similar to laws adopted in Connecticut and Maine  –with a  requirement that  similar action is taken in contiguous states before the law goes into effect. The action in France is not  the first time it has closed the door on MON810, even in the face of its highest court’s rulings that similar bans did not have sufficient justification. Yet, undaunted by these defeats the French General Assembly went […]

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23
Apr

Vermont One Large Step Closer to Labeling Genetically Engineered Food

(Beyond Pesticides, April 18, 2014) Last week the Vermont state Senate voted 28-2 to authorize the mandatory labeling of foods made with genetically engineered (GE) ingredients. The bill, H.112, “An Act Relating to the Labeling of Food Produced with Genetic Engineering,” passed the Vermont House of Representatives back in May, and now goes back to the House for approval before moving to the Governor. Vermont’s legislation does not include a “trigger clause,” which is contained in  labeling bills passed last year in Maine and Connecticut  that, before  going into effect,  require other states in the New England region (including one boarding state) with an aggregate population of 20 million to pass similar laws. If the last hurdles in the state legislature are cleared and the bill is signed by Governor Peter Shumlin (D), Vermont’s labeling law would not allow manufacturers to describe any food containing GE ingredients as “all natural” or “natural.” Processed foods that contain a product or products with GE would be required to display in clear and conspicuous language the words, “partially produced with genetic engineering” or “may be partially produced with genetic engineering.” But even if passed, Vermont’s bill faces numerous challenges from the deep pockets […]

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12
Mar

Whole Foods Says It Will Label GE Food in Stores within Five Years, as States Continue Push

(Beyond Pesticides, March 12, 2013) Despite the loss of Proposition 37 in California last November, GMO labeling efforts are moving forward throughout the United States. Late last week Whole Foods Market announced its own plan to label food with genetically engineered (GE) ingredients sold in its stores, making it the  first grocery chain in the nation to do so. In addition to the recent introduction of a National GE labeling bill in Congress by Representative Jared Polis (D-CO), Hawaii, Vermont, and Minnesota join the ranks of numerous other states with pending GMO labeling legislation. Whole Foods’ plan  requires a label for all GE food sold in its stores within the next  five years. The retailer notes that the move was made in response to customers’ increased demand for labeled products. “Some of our manufacturers say they’ve seen a 15 percent increase in sales of products they have labeled [as non–GMO],” explains A.C. Gallo, Whole Foods president. The chain’s labeling requirements include all of its North American stores, as its European supermarkets already require this label. The Grocery Manufacturer’s Association (GMA), an industry trade group that represents a number of major food retailers including Pepsico Inc., The Coca Cola Company, Kelloggs, […]

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09
Nov

Prop 37 Defeated at Polls, but Battle Against GE Food Remains Strong

(Beyond Pesticides, November 9, 2012) Proposition 37, the statewide proposition California voted on to label foods produced with genetically engineered (GE) ingredients, was narrowly defeated at the polls on Wednesday night by a margin of 6.2 percentage points, however uncounted votes may shift the results. Had it been approved, Californians would have required labels for raw or processed food with GE ingredients and it would have prohibited the labeling and advertising of foods using the misleading term “natural.” Though campaign organizers and most news outlets are announcing defeat, the fight is not over yet. Organizers of the “Yes on 37” campaign have begun to regroup, focusing on 4.2 million Californians that voted yes and building a grassroots movement with 10,000 volunteers. Their campaign’s optimism is highlighted by their campaign statement that was released yesterday online: Yesterday, we showed that there is a food movement in the United States, and it is strong, vibrant and too powerful to stop. We always knew we were the underdogs, and the underdogs nearly took the day. Dirty money and dirty tactics may have won this skirmish, but they will not win the war. If Prop 37 passed, California would have been the first state […]

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08
May

Vermont Passes First Statewide Fracking Ban

(Beyond Pesticides, May 8, 2012) On May 4, the Vermont House of Representatives voted 103-36 to give final passage to legislation that will make Vermont the first state in the nation to ban the practice of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. Fracking is a method of extracting natural gas from deep in the ground by injecting a mixture of water, sand and toxic chemicals ””including biocides”” under high pressure into dense rock formations such as shale, in order to crack the rock and release the gas. “The Vermont Legislature deserves tremendous praise for having the courage to stand up to all of the lobbying, the full page ads, and the legal threats of the oil and gas industry,” said Paul Burns, executive director of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group. “This is a shot that will be heard, if not around the world then at least around the country.” According to a minority staff report released last year by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce, more than 650 commonly used fracking products contain chemicals that are “known or possible human carcinogens, regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act, or listed as hazardous air pollutants.” In its […]

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29
Nov

Atrazine in Drinking Water May Cause Menstrual Cycle Irregularities in Women

(Beyond Pesticides, November 29, 2011) New research shows that women who drink water containing the widely used herbicide atrazine may be more likely to have irregular menstrual cycles and low estrogen levels, even at concentrations far below federal drinking water standards considered safe by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Researchers compared women living in Illinois farm towns where atrazine is used regularly to women living in Vermont where the herbicide is used sparingly, and found that the women in Illinois were almost five times more likely to report irregular menstrual cycles, including more than six weeks between periods. Consumption of over two cups of unfiltered Illinois water daily was associated with increased risk of irregular periods. The study, entitled “Menstrual cycle characteristics and reproductive hormone levels in women exposed to atrazine in drinking water,” was published in the journal Environmental Research earlier this month, and is based on municipal tap water tested between July and September of 2005. In the study, participants maintained menstrual cycle diaries, answered a questionnaire, and provided daily urine samples for analyses of luteinizing hormone and estradiol and progesterone metabolites. To measure exposure, analysts looked at the state of residence, concentrations of atrazine and chlorotriazine […]

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02
Aug

Study Finds Frogs Near Agricultural Fields More Likely To Be Deformed

(Beyond Pesticides, August 2, 2007) According to the Associated Press (AP), a new study finds frogs in Vermont living near farms are more than twice as likely as those living elsewhere to have deformities like missing legs. Yale University ecologist David Skelly, Ph.D., told the AP he decided to look at Vermont frogs because the state has been a hot spot during the last 10 years for deformed frogs. “We went to all these wetlands and cataloged where the deformities were found, and what kind of landscapes seemed to pose higher risks, if any,” Dr. Skelly said. “The answer was, frogs growing up in proximity to agriculture were more than two times as likely to have deformities. This doesn’t say it is chemical pesticides, but you can’t credibly consider this problem of the frogs without at least evaluating whether pesticides are involved.” Richard Levey, a biologist with the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, said two common farm chemicals, atrazine and metolachlor, had been found in trace amounts in water from wetlands where deformed frogs had been found. But he told the AP that the concentrations were far below those thought to have any effect on aquatic life. Research by Tyrone […]

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