MONTPELIER – The state of Vermont has something to say about the USDA’s new packaging labels for foods containing genetically modified ingredients. The updated branding shows the sun shining over a peaceful field with the words “Bioengineered” or “Derived From Bioengineering” written in a circle around the idyllic scene. Vermont, which has had a history of opposing genetically modified food, is refusing to use the labels, claiming they do not properly depict the dangers of altering the genetic make-up of what we are putting into our bodies.
The state has released two of its own variant labels which it is planning to use instead of the USDA’s official branding. The first shows a maple tree with a hypodermic needle sticking out of its side. The second appears to be some sort of mutated carrot monster stomping across the USDA’s happy field.
Anson Tebbetts, Vermont’s Secretary of Agriculture, Food, and Markets, claims that the approved USDA labels are not clearly identifiable as warnings. “First of all, this is my real name,” Tebbetts told The Winooski. “I know sometimes this site makes up silly names for people, but they didn’t need to do that for me. And as for the new USDA labels, they don’t even say ‘GMO’ on them, which is the standard term for bioengineered food. It’s confusing. They also make the food look perfectly safe with that happy farm clipart, but just because countless studies have shown the food to be safe doesn’t mean that we won’t see consequences 100, 200 years down the road. Until we can be sure, we need labels that serve all Vermonters.”
Vermont’s new labels will take effect January 2020, which still gives time for Vermonters to submit other label suggestions. Tebbetts says he will continue to accept submissions for label designs through July 1, 2019, provided the labels are appropriately horrifying.