Will Allen Honored with Politico 50 Award
Will & I have been in Washington, DC this week, in part to attend an event honoring the 2016 recipients of the Politico 50 awards … “the third annual list of the thinkers, doers and dreamers changing American politics in 2016 – and beyond.” Will is on the list as a recognition of his tireless work to label GMOs in the state of Vermont. The GMO Right to Know coalition was contacted by the Politico news organization some months ago asking which member of the group would best represent their successful efforts to raise awareness and change the debate about GMOs across the country. The coalition agreed that since Will had been the original energy and inspiration in forming the coalition and keeping the effort moving during the three years of the legislative struggle, he should be the one named by Politico.
Even though the Vermont law was completely preempted by the bill passed by Congress just 28 days after the Vermont statute went into effect, it is clear that “little Vermont” shook up the entire corporate agriculture establishment. As Will has pointed out, this is the one time in the last several years that Congress has actually done something – at the bidding of Monsanto and the other GMO supporters of course. And why would we be surprised? The federal law the corporations pushed so hard once Vermont’s law was passed not only preempts any and all states’ efforts to label GMOs, it also nullifies other labeling such as the GMO seed labeling law passed in Vermont in 2002 and others such as Alaska’s law requiring the labeling of GMO fish or fish product designed to protect the state’s fisheries from contamination by the recently approved GMO salmon.
But the fight goes on to try to change farming in this country so that people have access to healthy food that is grown in a way that actually helps to heal the planet. We were reminded of many efforts to improve our sad, polluted country when we attended the Politico event. We met many other people on the list of 50 who are doing incredibly important work. For example, Mona Hana Attisha, the pediatrition/medical profession from Michigan State and Marc Anderson the Virginia Tech civil engineer who were responsible for exposing the Flint water crisis; Carol Anderson, a brilliant historian from Emory University who wrote the book “White Rage: the Unspoken Truth about our Racial Divide”; Phillip Stoddard, the mayor of South Miami who is finally advocating for a realistic solution to the effects climate change is having on coastal communities; our colleague Lori Wallach from Citizen Watch who has been working for years to expose the dangers of free trade agreements; Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the Muslim immigrants from Pakistan who spoke at the Democratic convention and whose son was killed fighting for the US in Iraq. Many of the very well-known people on the list for 2016 – Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Sonya Sotomayor, Tim Cook – did not attend the event. But, present or not, we were honored to be among the many passionate folks who, like us, are doing the work because we have hope that at some point, the planet can be made safer and healthier for future generations.