VBSR to honor Carolyn Partridge as its ‘Legislator of the Year’

State representative from Windham praised for her efforts to pass GMO labeling bill

DOVER — Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility (VBSR) will present state Rep. Carolyn Partridge, D-Windham, with the organization's Legislator of the Year award for her work to pass legislation requiring the labeling of genetically engineered food.

The presentation is planned for the start of VBSR's 21st annual Fall Conference at the Grand Summit Hotel at Mount Snow on Wednesday, Nov. 20.

As chair of the House Agriculture Committee, Partridge helped oversee testimony earlier this year on H.112, a bill that would require the labeling of all genetically engineered food sold in Vermont.

The House passed the bill in a vote of 99-42 during the 2013 session. The Vermont Senate is expected to take it up during the 2014 session.

Mark Curran, VBSR board member and co-owner of Black River Produce in North Springfield, will present the award to Partridge.

“VBSR members believe that consumers have a right to know what is in the food they eat and that GMOs threaten the Vermont brand,” Curran said in a news release. “Carolyn was a tireless advocate for labeling at the Statehouse and her leadership has placed the state among the frontrunners of the movement.”

Partridge, who was first elected to the Legislature in 1998, said that she would accept the award on behalf of her committee. “Not every member voted for it [it passed on an 8-3 vote] but every member worked to make it a better bill,” she said.

She said she was optimistic that the Senate would pass the GMO labeling bill. “Given the widespread support for a labeling law among Vermonters, I believe the Senate will not block this bill. People have a right to know what is in the food that they eat.”

The battle over GMO labeling is being waged state-by-state. California voters rejected a referendum on labeling last year, and Washington state's voters did the same this year. Maine and Connecticut have passed GMO labeling laws, but they won't go into effect until other states adopt it. And New Hampshire's Legislature is wrangling over a labeling bill.

Opponents of GMO labeling claim there is no scientific proof that genetically modified food is unsafe.

“There's a lot of money being spent by Monsanto and the big biotech companies to stop these bills,” said Partridge, “but I'm not worried about the lawsuits or the ad campaigns. I'm elected to represent my constituents, and they overwhelmingly support a labeling law.”

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