G.M.A. plans to sue Vermont over G.M.O. law

by Jeff Gelski
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WASHINGTON — The Grocery Manufacturers Association on May 8 said it plans to file suit in federal court to overturn a Vermont state law that, effective July 1, 2016, will require the labeling of food produced from bioengineered ingredients.

Vermont’s governor, Peter Shumlin, signed bill H.B. 112 into law on May 8.

“Vermonters take our food and how it is produced seriously, and we believe we have a right to know what’s in the food we buy,” he said. “I am proud that we’re leading the way in the United States to require labeling of genetically engineered food. More than 60 countries have already restricted or labeled these foods, and now one state, Vermont, will also ensure that we know what’s in the food we buy and serve our families.”

The Washington-based G.M.A. countered that bioengineered crops use less water and fewer pesticides, reduce crop prices 15% to 30% and may help feed a growing global population. The G.M.A. pointed out the Food and Drug Administration, the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association all have said bioengineered ingredients are safe.

“Consumers who prefer to avoid G.M. ingredients have the option to choose from an array of products already in the marketplace labeled certified organic,” the G.M.A. said. “The government therefore has no compelling interest in warning consumers about foods containing G.M. ingredients, making this law’s legality suspect at best. In light of this fact, in the coming weeks G.M.A. will file suit in federal court against the state of Vermont to overturn the law.”

Instead of a potential 50-state patchwork of labeling policies, the G.M.A. favors bipartisan federal legislation in the form of the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, HR 4432. It would require a label on foods containing bioengineered ingredients if the F.D.A. determines there is a health or safety risk.

Under the Vermont law to take effect on July 1, 2016, if food for humans is offered for sale at retail in the state and is produced entirely or partially with genetic engineering, the food must be labeled to indicate that fact. Violators would face penalties and further action by the state’s Attorney General’s Office.

The bill also creates a special fund to support the implementation and administration of the state labeling law. The fund would cover costs and fees associated with challenges in court.

“The constitutionality of the G.M.O. labeling law will undoubtedly be challenged,” said William Sorrell, Vermont’s attorney general. “I can make no predictions or promises about how the courts will ultimately rule, but I can promise that my office will mount a vigorous and zealous defense of the law that has so much support from Vermont consumers.”
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READER COMMENTS (5)

By Robert 5/19/2014 11:24:19 PM
The GMA is willing to sue to remove Vt's law because they favor a Federal Law. If they're truly concerned they will stop this sham & shameful lawsuit that favors the Federal govt, where Monsanto is so deeply entrenched doing something. Until the flavor of the Supreme Court receives some tweeking, along with our legislative bodies, there is not a chance of this happening. We need more state laws like Vt's, not groups on Monsanto's side suing, under the guise of doing the public a favor!

By Merlin 5/16/2014 11:51:23 AM
It's nice to know that Vermont is leading the way in this issue. Consumers have a right to know what's in their food, whether the FDA things it's bad for you or not, everybody should have a right to make that decision for themselves. The people of Vermont wanted this law, therefore it is fully constitutional. "We, the people", remember. The government represents our voice, we don't represent the views of the government. I will also donate to the legal defense fund in order to uphold this law. Monsanto, here we come!

By George Chase 5/11/2014 6:07:09 AM
Where can I send my $100 donation in VT to help with the cost of this common sense law? My state (NH) doesn't have the courage 833447to stand up and against Monsanto or the Ass.Grocers who tout the BS like the tabacco companies did about how cigarettes are good for you! Thank you! G

By Greenspirit 5/10/2014 8:35:40 PM
If GMOs are so wonderful, what are they afraid of? If the labels are clear then those who want to support all these wonderful advances can now do so with their wallets. And of course those who don't will now be able to make that choice as well. Kinda makes you wonder why big Ag is so scared of this law. I could not be prouder of my home state!

By Sam 5/9/2014 6:28:17 PM
Go VERMONT!!! The people have spoken.