Rock singer-songwriter Neil Young is not happy with Starbucks. In fact, the musician has recently made the decision to never step foot in one of their coffeeshops again. Earlier this week, Young posted a strongly-worded statement about the company on his website after learning of their involvement in a lawsuit against Vermont’s new law requiring food manufacturers to properly label genetically modified ingredients (also referred to as GMOs) by July 1, 2016.
The state of Vermont passed this law earlier this year, and four major food industry organizations filed a suit against them soon afterward, asserting that the law was unconstitutional. These organizations include the Snack Food Association, the International Dairy Food Association, the National Association of Manufacturers, and, lastly, the umbrella under which Starbucks sits: the Grocery Manufacturers Association. Young addresses these entities directly in his statement. He begins by saying, “I used to line up and get my latte everyday, but yesterday was my last one. Starbucks has teamed up with Monsanto to sue Vermont, and stop accurate food labeling.”
He continues, “Tell Starbucks to withdraw support for the lawsuit — we have a right to know what we put in our mouths. Starbucks doesn’t think you have the right to know what’s in your coffee. So it’s teamed up with Monsanto to sue the small U.S. state of Vermont to stop you from finding out. Hiding behind the shadowy ‘Grocery Manufacturers Association,’ Starbucks is supporting a lawsuit that’s aiming to block a landmark law that requires genetically-modified ingredients be labeled. Amazingly, it claims that the law is an assault on corporations’ right to free speech.
“Monsanto might not care what we think — but as a public-facing company, Starbucks does. 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.” Young concluded his statement by encouraging his fans to sign a petition or donate money to the cause on the website of SumOfUs, an organization that, according to Young, has raised a quarter of a million dollars in hopes of fighting back against Monsanto.
The rock singer is no stranger to environmental activism, however. Most recently, in August, he encouraged his fans to join him in refusing to wear non-organic cotton. These ideas are just as apparent in his music, and his latest single, “Who’s Gonna Stand Up? (And Save the Earth)” has strong activist overtones that encourage listeners to preserve our environment through lyrics like “Protect the wild, tomorrow’s child / Protect the land from the greed of man / Take down the dams, stand up to oil / Protect the plants, and renew the soil.”