Rocker Neil Young backs Ver­mont’s ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied or­gan­ism food la­bel­ing law

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - BUSINESS -

Rocker Neil Young is lend­ing his sup­port to the state's ef­forts to la­bel foods con­tain­ing ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied in­gre­di­ents.

Young, who per­formed in con­cert Sun­day at the Cham­plain Val­ley Ex­po­si­tion in Es­sex Junction, ap­peared ear­lier with Demo­cratic Gov. Peter Shum­lin and do­nated $100,000 to a fund de­voted to de­fend­ing Ver­mont's ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied or­gan­ism, or GMO, la­bel­ing law from le­gal chal­lenges.

Shum­lin said Mon­day that Young's do­na­tion was “a huge help.”

“It's a huge gift, and we need more like them,” he said, to help de­fray the costs of a le­gal bat­tle that At­tor­ney Gen­eral Bill Sor­rell has es­ti­mated could cost the state as much as $8 mil­lion.

Ver­mont last year passed a law un­der which it's sched­uled to be­come the first state to re­quire foods with al­tered DNA to be la­beled as such. Con­necti­cut and Maine pre­vi­ously had passed laws that would take ef­fect only if neigh­bour­ing states joined in.

The Gro­cery Man­u­fac­tur­ers of Amer­ica and other in­dus­try groups are su­ing to block the law be­fore its sched­uled im­ple­men­ta­tion date, July 1, 2016.

When Shum­lin signed the law 14 months ago, he an­nounced the for­ma­tion of the Ver­mont Food Fight Fund to col­lect do­na­tions to help fight the ex­pected le­gal chal­lenges. Be­fore Sun­day, the ef­fort had raised about $450,000, the gover­nor said; Young's do­na­tion boosted it by more than 20 per cent.

“I'm just a rock 'n' roller who be­lieves peo­ple should know what they're eat­ing,” Young said dur­ing his ap­pear­ance with Shum­lin.

He said he hoped his do­na­tion would in­spire oth­ers to do the same.

“We would like to see some of the high rollers in Ver­mont who be­lieve in this come up and match that,” he said.

Shum­lin said Young “called me out of the blue about 10 days ago and said, 'I'm com­ing to Ver­mont. I want to help you raise money for the Ver­mont food fight.”'

Young has been tour­ing to pro­mote a new al­bum, “The Mon­santo Years,” which is sharply crit­i­cal of the Mon­santo Co.'s role in agri­cul­ture. This cou­plet pro­vides an ex­am­ple:

“The farmer knows he's got to grow what he can sell, Mon­santo, Mon­santo

“So he signs a deal for GMOs that makes life hell with Mon­santo, Mon­santo.”

Mon­santo, a sus­tain­able-agri­cul­ture com­pany that says it de­liv­ers agri­cul­tural prod­ucts that sup­port farm­ers world­wide, has re­sponded by say­ing many of its work­ers are fans of Young. But it chides Young for be­ing wrapped up in “myths” sur­round­ing it and its mar­ket­ing of ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied seeds.

“We rec­og­nize there is a lot of mis­in­for­ma­tion about who we are and what we do - and un­for­tu­nately sev­eral of those myths are cap­tured in his lyrics,” com­pany spokes­woman Kelly Clauss wrote in an email Mon­day.

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