Starbucks says wrongly accused of fighting Vermont GMO labeling law

Mon Nov 17, 2014 5:44pm EST
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By Lisa Baertlein

(Reuters) - Starbucks Corp said on Monday it has been wrongly accused in online petitions of supporting a Grocery Manufacturers Association lawsuit to block Vermont's GMO labeling law.

Petitions posted to websites such as and accused Starbucks of teaming with fellow GMA member Monsanto Co to kill GMO labeling in Vermont, which in May became the first U.S. state to pass a mandatory GMO labeling law that did not require another state to go first.

"Starbucks is not part of any litigation pertaining to GMO labeling. ... We don't support the lawsuit," Starbucks said in a statement.

"Neither Starbucks nor Monsanto is participating in our lawsuit to overturn Vermont's GMO labeling law," GMA spokesman Brian Kennedy said in an email to Reuters.

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" and to "shield individual companies from criticism for funding of specific efforts."

Kennedy, the GMA spokesman, did not respond to questions related to that account.

Petition backers on Monday were more than halfway to their goal of collecting some 500,000 online signatures. Supporters include singer-songwriter Neil Young, who vowed on his website to boycott Starbucks over the GMO issue.

The petitions also call on Starbucks to cut ties with GMA and to switch to GMO-free organic milk.   Continued...

Customers walk out of a Starbucks coffee store in Shanghai July 28, 2014.REUTERS/ Carlos Barria