Tell Starbucks: Drop out of the anti-GMO labeling lawsuit
If you purchase a coffee drink at your neighborhood Starbucks this winter, you’re probably not doing it to stop GMO labeling.
But due to Starbucks’ membership in the Grocery Manufacturers Association – the massive food industry front group that is leading the lawsuit to overturn Vermont’s landmark GMO labeling law ¬– the next coffee drink you purchase could support efforts to keep Americans in the dark about what’s in our food.
Oral arguments in the crucial Vermont GMO labeling lawsuit are expected to start in the next few weeks,1 so now is the perfect time to pressure Starbucks to end its membership in the Grocery Manufacturers Association and stop fighting GMO labeling.
Sign the petition: Tell Starbucks to leave the Grocery Manufacturers Association and stop fighting GMO labeling.
Earlier this year, Vermont passed a law that would require all foods containing GMOs to be labeled beginning in 2016. The Grocery Manufacturers Association, of which Starbucks is a longtime member, immediately filed a lawsuit against the state, claiming that requiring food manufacturers to tell consumers what’s in their food would unfairly burden businesses.
Suing the state of Vermont over its GMO labeling law is far from the only thing the Grocery Manufacturers Association has done to keep consumers in the dark about what’s in our food. It has spent millions of dollars working to defeat GMO labeling ballot measures in California, Washington, Oregon and Colorado – and it has largely succeeded.
Starbucks’ membership in the Grocery Manufacturers Association’s lawsuit has attracted high-profile opposition from the musician Neil Young, who announced last month that he is boycotting the company because it “has teamed up with Monsanto to sue Vermont, and stop accurate food labeling.” As Young explained on his website, "Monsanto might not care what we think -- but as a public-facing company, Starbucks does.”2
Join Neil Young in demanding that Starbucks leave the Grocery Manufacturers Association and stop fighting GMO labeling.
Starbucks is already scrambling to distance itself from the lawsuit with a statement denying any involvement.3 But as Reuters pointed out, Starbucks’ public relations spin doesn’t hold water:
Internal GMA documents filed last year as part of a lawsuit in Washington State revealed members contribute to a "Defense of Brands Strategic Account" designed "to help the industry fund programs to address the threats from motivated and well financed activists."4
Moreover, the Grocery Manufacturers Association lawsuit states that “Plaintiffs represent manufacturers who are subject to the Act, who fundamentally disagree with the message it forces them to convey…” As long as Starbucks remains a member of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, it is participating in the effort to strike down Vermont’s GMO labeling law.
Starbucks’ statement on the lawsuit also says, “as a company with stores and a product presence in every state, we prefer a national solution. Given the Tea Party control of the U.S. House of Representatives and the fact that Republicans have taken control of the U.S. Senate, there is currently no viable path to a federal GMO labeling standard. As such, Starbucks’ role in overturning Vermont's landmark GMO labeling law is working directly against our best opportunity to make progress in the fight to know what's in our food.
Sign the petition: Starbucks must leave the Grocery Manufacturers Association and stop fighting GMO labeling.
1. "Nation watching GMO labeling fight in Vermont," Burlington Free Press, December 1, 2014.
2. "Neil Young Boycotts Starbucks Over GMO Lawsuit," Rolling Stone, November 15, 2014.
3. "Starbucks Response to Questions and Litigation Regarding GMO Labeling," Starbucks.
4. "Starbucks says wrongly accused of fighting Vermont GMO labeling law," Reuters, November 17, 2014.