Starbucks denies involvement in G.M.O. lawsuit

by Jeff Gelski
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SEATTLE — Starbucks Coffee Co. in a statement on Nov. 15 said it is not part of any lawsuit pertaining to the labeling of food and beverage products with bioengineered ingredients/genetically modified organisms and that it is no not aligned with Monsanto to stop food labeling or block Vermont state law.

“The petition claiming that Starbucks is part of this litigation is completely false, and we have asked the petitioners to correct their description of our position,” Starbucks said. “Starbucks has not taken a position on the issue of G.M.O. labeling. As a company with stores and a product presence in every state, we prefer a national solution.”

A petition from SumOfUs requests Starbucks to “withdraw your membership in the Grocery Manufacturers Association and your support for the lawsuit against Vermont’s food labeling law.” SumOfUs seeks 500,000 signatures for the petition and had gathered more than 324,000 by Nov. 17.

“Starbucks doesn’t think you have the right to know what’s in your coffee,” SumOfUs said. “So it’s teamed up with Monsanto to sue the small U.S. state of Vermont to stop you from finding out.”

Seattle-based Starbucks responded to a Food Business News inquiry about G.M.A. membership.

“Like most multinational companies, we join trade associations such as G.M.A. because it is important for Starbucks to participate in trade associations giving us a voice in the industry debate about exactly these kinds of issues,” a spokesperson for Starbucks said. “As we have previously stated, Starbucks is not part to any litigation pertaining to G.M.O. labeling.”

The Washington-based Grocery Manufacturers Association on June 13 filed a complaint in the federal district court in Vermont that challenged the state’s mandate to label products with G.M.O.s.

“Vermont’s mandatory G.M.O. labeling law — Act 120 — is a costly and misguided measure that will set the nation on a path toward a 50-state patchwork of G.M.O. labeling policies that do nothing to advance the health and safety of consumers,” the G.M.A. said. “Act 120 exceeds the state’s authority under the United States Constitution, and in light of this, G.M.A. has filed a complaint in federal district court in Vermont seeking to enjoin this senseless mandate.”
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READER COMMENTS (3)

By Mike Hurst 12/1/2014 2:31:55 PM
I very much look forward to a 50-state patchwork of GMO labeling policies. I believe it's unlawful for corporations to conceal ingredients of the products they manufacture, all for the luxury of peace of mind that consumers won't question the integrity of what they're buying. In my opinion, it is senseless to not question what is in our food, especially with the knowledge of the huge amounts of chemicals that are used nowadays. History tells a story that corporations have, without guilt, marketed hazardous and carcinogenic ingredients to consumers, not ceasing to use them until disastrous health issues of great proportion had been cited. Many people have been irreversibly harmed by such thoughtless acts, of which there is no measure of adequate repayment. Labeling, as is proposed, is the only defense against such wrongs. The "issue" of cost, cited by multi-million dollar corporations, is an insult to consumers and not a reason to rethink the labeling guidelines.

By Rafael Maldonado 11/20/2014 12:26:15 PM
I support the companies in favor of labeling of food and beverage products with bioengineered ingredients/genetically modified organisms. And moving away from companies like Starbucks that are not doing it.

By Ron Cully 11/19/2014 2:36:33 AM
Starbucks' claim is like saying the US isn't supporting the war in Syria because we don't have ground troops there. Starbucks lack of a move to milk from non-GMO fed cows, lack of commitment to only non-GMO ingredients, lack of public stance in favor of mandatory disclosure of GMO ingredients (at the state or federal level) makes them a passive supporter and an active economic contributor to the GMO industry and the Vermont law suit. Stop playing the victim Mr. Schultz! Step up, be a leader in this space and support the desires of your customers. Until then, count on my boycott and my active encouragement of others to do the same.