Towns vote on GMO, renewable energy referenda

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(Host) The majority of towns that considered referenda items dealing with genetically engineered foods and sustainable energy policies gave their approval to these proposals on Town Meeting Day.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) Just over 40 communities considered a resolution on genetically engineered foods – 35 towns supported the proposal, three defeated it and three tabled action on it.

The resolution calls on lawmakers to pass several bills dealing with this issue. One bill calls for the strict labeling of products that contain genetically engineered foods; another shifts liability for any problems associated with the use of GE seeds from farmers to the companies that manufacture the seeds; and a third bill calls for a moratorium on the use of GMO products until more safety and health tests have been conducted.

Brian Tokar at the Institute for Social Ecology says he’s very pleased that the resolution garnered so much support on Town Meeting Day. He hopes that the votes will encourage the Legislature to act on these bills:

(Tokar) “We certainly hope so. There are now more than 65 towns all across Vermont from north to south that have taken a strong stand on this issue and we really think there’s beginning to be the kind of momentum that will get some legislation passed, and also get some real action happening at the local level.”

(Kinzel) Many towns also gave their strong approval to a referendum calling for stronger renewable energy programs in Vermont. At least 52 towns supported the measure while just two defeated it. John Berkowitz was one of the organizers of this effort:

(Berkowitz) “The purpose of this resolution is that last year the state Legislature dropped the ball, we feel, and they didn’t pass a good renewable energy bill. And so a lot of people were not happy about that, including our organization. So obviously we mounted this campaign to basically send a strong message to the Legislature, to Governor Douglas that people in Vermont really want to see stronger action taken to take Vermont towards energy independence.”

(Kinzel) The final results for both proposals will be released Wednesday.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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