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Ben & Jerry’s joins Vermont’s fight for GMO labeling

Published time: June 17, 2014 17:50
Co-founder of Ben and Jerrya`s Homemade Inc. Jerry Greenfield (Alex Wong / Getty Images / AFP)

Co-founder of Ben and Jerrya`s Homemade Inc. Jerry Greenfield (Alex Wong / Getty Images / AFP)

As Vermont gears up to defend its first-in-the-nation labeling law concerning food that contains genetically modified organisms, ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s is teaming up with the state to help raise money for the cause.

According to the Burlington Free Press, the company is changing the name of one of its most popular ice cream flavors in order to promote donations to the Food Fight Fund set up to defend the state’s new GMO labeling law. For the month of July, Ben & Jerry’s fudge brownie ice cream will be known as “Food Fight! Fudge Brownie.”

Additionally, the company announced it will donate $1 from every ice cream purchase at its Burlington and Waterbury shops to Vermont’s legal fund.

In order to promote the fund, co-founder Jerry Greenfield appeared with Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin on Monday outside an ice cream store in Burlington.

“This is a pretty simple issue,” Greenfield said in a statement. “Vermonter’s want the right to know what’s in their food, and apparently a bunch of out of state companies don’t want to tell us.

“We're used to putting dough in ice cream, but renaming Chocolate Fudge Brownie to Food Fight Fudge Brownie will help put some dough in the Food Fight Fund," he added.

As RT reported previously, Vermont’s GMO labeling law is under legal attack from food companies such as Monsanto and Kraft Foods, as well as groups like the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) – an organization that includes Unilever, Ben & Jerry’s parent company.

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin (Alex Wong / Getty Images / AFP)

Earlier this month, the GMA was one of four national trade organizations to file a lawsuit against the new requirements, arguing that GMO foods are safe and that labeling is not only costly, but also unnecessary. If states decide to come up with their own labeling requirements with no national guidelines, food makers say it would result in confusion and increased prices.

In a statement, the GMA called the law is “a costly and misguided measure that will set the nation on a path toward a 50-state patchwork of GMO labeling policies that do nothing to advance the health and safety of consumers.”

The National Association of Manufacturers, meanwhile, said, “With zero justification in health, safety or science, the State of Vermont has imposed a burdensome mandate on manufacturers that unconstitutionally compels speech and interferes with interstate commerce.”

To defend its legislation, Vermont itself has allocated about $1.5 million towards a legal fund, but that is unlikely to be enough. According to the Associated Press, state officials believe about $8 million is needed, and so far only $18,000 has been raised.

Still, Gov. Shumlin said that while the fund is there to raise whatever it can, it’s not the only option the state has.

"We want to raise as much as we can," he said in a separate Free Press article. "The rest we'll do the old-fashioned way. We don't expect to raise the whole amount."

As for Ben & Jerry’s, the company has been transitioning its entire portfolio of ice cream flavors into non-GMO products. Despite being owned by Unilever – which spent more than $450,000 to try and defeat California’s own labeling proposals – the company has decided to forge ahead on a GMO-free path and support Vermont’s law.

As noted by the AP, Greenfield himself testified to Congress as a supporter of GMO labeling. Although he did so on his own behalf during that time, he said he’s glad the entire company is behind the effort now.

"Now it's all-in," he said. "I feel much happier about it."

Comments (11)


john mcmurdy 23.06.2014 18:36

Devil is in details. Having a label that says "may contain" versus "does contain" is tremendously different. "May contain" means you can basically just slap it on everything that isn't certified organic and is probably is relatively inexpensive. "Does contain" requires that all the supply chains are then segregated for the seed used to grow it and it drives up the cost of food for EVERYONE, including those who realize that GMO is a totally arbitrary definition to begin with. For more info on that, google "new plant breeding technologies" and see if you can decide what "is" and what "is not" a GMO


ernie 18.06.2014 21:45

i do love to see folks saying how they have never heard of a study showing something that huge corps produce is bad for you. it seems that you didn't look very hard because there is lots and lots of data. not only from labs but from some of this stuff getting into the human food supply. anyone remember the corn chips that cause so many allergic reactions? bet you did but wrote it off as just another contamination problem. labeling only cost a bit more while the cancer treatment costs lots more. as does the allergist, gym membership, cardiologist Etc.
good ol cost benefit analysis.


cikular 18.06.2014 15:57

Its always the same story corporations fight to prevent the truth.Tobacco companys did that ,chemical corporations,drug corporations,pharmac ys and so on.They just care about profit.

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