Neil Young Says “Goodbye Starbucks” In Angry Open Letter

An angry post on Neil Young’s official site entitled “GOODBYE STARBUCKS!!!” explains why Young is boycotting the coffee chain and urging others to do the same. The iconic folk-rocker notes that Starbucks has aligned itself with the genetically engineered food company Monsanto in a lawsuit against the state of Vermont. (UPDATE: Starbucks isn’t actually involved with the lawsuit, so Young’s ire is misplaced; see below.) As the Genetic Literacy Project explains, “Last spring, Vermont passed a law that will require all products containing GMOs to be properly labeled by July 1, 2016, with the exception of dairy products, meat, alcohol and food served in restaurants.” Young compared Vermont vs. Monsanto to David vs. Goliath and said he’s disappointed Starbucks is teaming up with “the biggest villain of them all” after staking out a progressive position on other issues. Here’s the full text of Young’s post, which borrows heavily from a recent petition at the website SumOfUs:

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.
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.
Vermont is a small, entirely rural state with just 600,000 people. It’s a classic David and Goliath fight between Vermont and Monsanto. Considering that Starbucks has been progressive on LGBT and labor issues in the past, it’s disappointing that it is working with the biggest villain of them all, Monsanto. Monsanto Logo
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. 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.
That’s why Monsanto and its new allies are fighting so hard to kill GMO labeling in Vermont.
But whatever you think of GMOs, corporations should not be using massive lawsuits to overturn legitimate, democratic decisions with strong public backing.
SumOfUs is already fighting back — they helped Vermont raise almost a quarter of a million dollars to defend themselves against Monsanto’s bullying! Help them by going to SumOfUs and registering to donate or sign a petition. The next strategic step is to pressure and call out members of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the shadowy body leading the lawsuit. Your backing can help.
Add your voice now. Tell Starbucks to stop supporting the lawsuit against Vermont.
Thanks for caring!
Neil Young
Nov 9, 2014
Vancouver BC Canada

UPDATE: Starbucks says they’re not affiliated with the lawsuit Young is so upset about. Here’s the company’s official statement:

Starbucks is not a part of any lawsuit pertaining to GMO labeling nor have we provided funding for any campaign. 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.

[Photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images.]