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Food Industry Giants to Wage Legal Battle to Defeat Vermont's Landmark GMO Labeling Law

The GMA wasted no time in announcing its lawsuit to defeat the pro-labeling legislation

- Andrea Germanos, staff writer

Photo: Antoine.Couturier/cc/flickrAs pro-labeling advocates were cheering Vermont's passage of a GMO labeling bill on Thursday, a powerful food industry lobbing group announced its plans to file a federal lawsuit to overturn the law.

Governor Peter Shumlin's signature yesterday marked a landmark moment as Vermont became the first state to enact a no-strings attached law mandating the labeling of genetically modified food and preventing GMO foods from being labeled as "natural."

In response, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents food and beverage industry giants like Pepsico and Cargill and poured millions into defeating measures in California and Washington, said it would sue the state — likely an unsurprising development to Vermont, which has already set up a Food Fight Fund site to "mount a powerful defense" against legal battles.

The GMA issued a statement on Thursday cheering GMO crops as having "important benefits for people and our planet" and calling Vermont's law "critically flawed and not in the best interests of consumers."

The statement also included an announcement from the group that it would be starting a legal battle against Vermont, saying that government "has no compelling interest in warning consumers about foods containing GM ingredients, making this law’s legality suspect at best."

"In light of this fact, in the coming weeks GMA will file suit in federal court against the state of Vermont to overturn the law."

The GMA statement urges support instead for labeling legislation from Republican Rep. Mike Pompeo, which has been dubbed the Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act and criticized as a "Monsanto, Koch Brothers alliance."

The GMA is also investing current efforts to discredit the film Fed Up, which opens in theaters on Friday, and is described as "the film the food industry doesn’t want you to see."

According to reporting on Friday by Christina Wilkie in the Huffington Post:

Days before the film's release, a new website appeared that at first looks nearly identical to the official "Fed Up" site. But instead of featuring the movie trailer and showtimes, the site adopts the popular online quiz format, luring people in with a challenge: "Think you know the facts about 'Fed Up?' Take the quiz."

The "quiz," it turns out, is nine "true or false" questions. Six of them are statements made by doctors and food policy experts in "Fed Up," such as, "Food companies have caused the obesity rate to skyrocket." If you click "true," you'll get a big, fat "incorrect," and below that, some selectively edited figures about obesity rates. The other three questions are about the food industry, and the steps it claims to have taken to combat obesity. The correct answer for these is "true."

As for who is behind this propaganda page for the food processing industry, say hello to the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), the primary lobbying group for the nation's largest food and beverage companies.

The lobbying group launched the dummy website, called FedUpFacts.com, on Wednesday, the same day it purchased Google ads for search terms related to the documentary, including its title. The ads direct back to the quiz site, where there is a disclosure notice at the bottom of the page: "FedUpFacts is brought to you by the Grocery Manufacturers Association, representing the makers of the world's favorite food, beverage and consumer products."

The filmmakers, however, hope to put a spotlight on the fact that "far more of us are sick from what we are eating than anyone has ever realized," and to call out the "decades-long misinformation campaign orchestrated by Big Food and aided and abetted by the U.S. Government."

You can watch the trailer for the film below:

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