That the legislature from a small state with 600,000 residents is on-track to reshape America’s food labeling laws while creating minimal impact on its own farmers is no accident. Vermont, analysts note, exempted the cheese and maple syrup it so famously produces from its mandatory GMO labeling law that’s set to launch July 1. Vermonters are also proud of their local food movement, boasting more farmer’s markets and certified organic farms per capita than any other state. The battle, however, is far from over.

GMO labeling is not about food safety,” says John Bode, CEO of the Corn Refiners Association.  He thinks the mandatory labels are simply a marketing ploy to further scare consumers. “Every authority agrees it will raise food prices,” he says.

“Make no mistake,” says Julie Borlaug, granddaughter of Nobel Peace prize laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug, “these state labeling efforts are not about a so-called ‘right to know’ but are about enabling activists to drive GMOs out of the marketplace.” Scientific logic leads her to believe, “You can’t be anti-hunger and anti-GMO.”

This week’s GMO squabble reminds us of the scientific intellect of the average American measured on a monthly basis by Oklahoma State University food scientist Jason Lusk.

In addition to wanting GMO labels, the January 2015 Food Demand survey found 80% of respondents also want “mandatory labels on foods containing DNA.”

Friday Funnies

Fun stories we’ve stumbled upon while composing this week’s GTN.

Free Burritos

The response to Chipotle’s offer of free burritos was way bigger than the company anticipated. It expected the coupons would translate into about 2.5 million free burritos, but turns out they were forced to give away more than double that estimate. In fact, the 5.3 million freebies amounted to 14,000 burritos a minute.

But the company is not done with the promotions. Despite a 26% decline in same-store sales during February, Chipotle is soon to mail out an additional 21 million coupons, according to a conference call yesterday with investors. Chipotle estimates that could turn into another 9 million free burritos for customers.

Based on a burrito cost of $7.10, the next round of freebies would total more than $62 million. But the recently announced cuts in compensation for co-CEOs Steve Ells and Monty Moran totaled about 3.8 million burritos.

Modern Cattle Rustling

When ranchers in Texas and Oklahoma realize they’re missing cattle, they call the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association Special Rangers, a team of 30 lawmen who investigate livestock-related crimes. Last fall 107 steers went missing from a Waco ranch despite the fact they were branded and tagged. The thief is now spending 10 years behind bars.