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Vermont is about to become the first state to require labeling of genetically modified ingredients on food packaging after a bill passed the state House by a wide margin. The state’s Senate voted for a labeling requirement last week 26-2, and according to Burlington’s WCAX, Governor Peter Shumlin has indicated he may sign the bill.

The House has passed a bill that’s likely to make Vermont the first state with a labeling requirement for genetically modified foods.

“They want to know what’s in their food, and this is a step that Vermont’s been waiting for and across the nation, Vermont’s providing leadership here,” said Rep. Michael Mrowicki, D-Putney.

Over the years, the issue of Genetically Modified Organism labels on food items has generated enormous public opinion. Critics of the GMO label believe it may violate the law, and Vermont could face a lawsuit.

“There will be a legal challenge, we all know that, our attorney general told us someone will do a legal challenge on this,” said Sen. Norm McAllister, R-Franklin County.

To address concern, legislators set up a legal defense fund. It will be financed with tax dollars and also private donations. The attorney general believes a lawsuit could cost the state $1 million to defend.

Even skeptics of the law worried about expensive legal bills decided to support the bill because their constituents wanted it.

The House approved the measure on a vote of 114-30.

Now that the House and Senate have passed the GMO bill, it’s up to Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont. Aides to Shumlin say it’s likely he will sign the bill into law.

Maine and Connecticut passed GMO labeling bills before Vermont, but theirs take effect only if neighboring states follow along. Vermont is going solo with a bill that would take effect July 1, 2016.

The move by Vermont is likely to create more tension around the corporate agribusiness push for a voluntary label standard which would prohibit individual states from managing their requirements. Earlier this month, a bill was introduced for national policy.

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