My my, hey hey, Neil Young's getting out of the black … coffee. The legendary rocker announced that he's boycotting Starbucks over the coffee monolith's alleged involvement in a lawsuit in Vermont regarding the labeling of genetically modified ingredients.
"I used to line up and get my latte everyday, but yesterday was my last one," Young wrote on his website earlier this week. "Starbucks has teamed up with Monsanto to sue Vermont, and stop accurate food labeling."
Young's referring to a law Vermont passed last spring that will require food labels to specify whether they're made with genetically modified ingredients by July 1, 2016. (Dairy, meat, alcohol and food served in restaurants are excluded.)
Four food industry organizations have filed suit against the state, including the Grocery Manufacturers Association – whose 300-plus-strong membership includes Starbucks and Monsanto – the Snack Food Association, the International Dairy Food Association and the National Association of Manufacturers.
"Monsanto might not care what we think – but as a public-facing company, Starbucks does," Young wrote. "If we can generate enough attention, we can push Starbucks to withdraw its support for the lawsuit, and then pressure other companies to do the same," he added, before expressing disappointment that Starbucks – whose past stances on LGBT and labor issues Young lauds – is "working with the biggest villain of them all, Monsanto."
"There's much more at stake here than just whether GMO foods will be labeled in a single U.S. state. Vermont is the very first state in the U.S. to require labeling," he said. "Dozens of other states have said that they will follow this path – in order to encourage this, we need to ensure that Vermont's law stands strong."
Young's letter closes by pointing fans to SumOfUs, where they can donate or sign a petition.
Starbucks has responded to Young's accusations with a statement of its own:
"Starbucks is not a part of any lawsuit pertaining to GMO labeling nor have we provided funding for any campaign," the statement read. "And Starbucks is 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 has not taken a position on the issue of GMO labeling. As a company with stores and a product presence in every state, we prefer a national solution."
It remains to be seen whether Young will issue a counter-statement, which we can only hope takes the form of a blistering, 12-minute guitar solo.
This story was originally published in Organic Consumers Association.