Vermont’s landmark GMO-labelling law target of lawsuit by food trade groups
A group of four national trade organizations sued the state of Vermont over its new law requiring labels on foods with genetically modified ingredients, scheduled to go into effect in July 2016. They claim the requirement is unconstitutional.
Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), the Snack Food Association (SFA), International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) say that food made with genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are safe and do not need to be specially labeled. The Vermont legislature passed the bill in April, and Gov. Peter Shumlin (D-Vt.) signed it into law at the beginning of May.
“I am proud of Vermont for being the first state in the nation to ensure that Vermonters will know what is in their food. The Legislature has spoken loud and clear through its passage of this bill,” he said in a statement after the bill passed.
Legislators knew that major food companies like Monsanto Co. and DuPont Co – the leading producers of GMO crops – were likely to challenge the law in courts. Attorney General William Sorrell said he advised lawmakers while they deliberated the bill that it would invite a lawsuit from affected companies, “and it would be a heck of a fight, but we would zealously defend the law,” he noted Thursday, according to the Burlington Free Press.
To defend the legislation, Vermont allocated a $1.5 million legal defense fund in the measure, to be paid for with settlements won by the state. However, even this amount might not be enough to cover the state’s legal bills.