Vermont is leading the national GMO conversation – Could this state be the first to enact a genetically modified food labeling law?
The bill is blazing a speedy trail to Governor Peter Shumlin’s desk.
On April 15th, the Vermont Senate cast its votes for a bill that would require GMO labels on food products; 26 – 2. The next day, a revised version passed through the House with a vote of 114 – 30.
That week, it looked like Governor Shumlin would sign if it reached him. Now he has openly said he will. And that can happen in the next week or so.
The bill offers three labeling options:
- “partially produced with genetic engineering”
- “may be produced with genetic engineering”
- “produced with genetic engineering”
This writer noticed some talk on social media about whether a bill like this is a good idea – allowing the state to dictate what people can or cannot do.
Rep. Carolyn Partridge (D) said:
Our constituents have spoken. They feel it’s important to know what’s in their food.
That appears to be the crux of this bill; its very reason for existing. The people of Vermont have spoken up to have more labeling information on what up to 80% of grocery shelf food contains – and it appears their representatives have listened (providing for exemptions and a delayed timeline noted below).
If/when passed, the law would require labeling by July 1, 2016. The state already has wording and a $1.5 million fund to pad against lawsuits from food companies and presumably biotech and chemical makers which are somehow anticipated to be $5-8 million. Rep. Anne Donahue (R) thought about the potential lawsuits but decided to vote for the bill because the constituents decided it was worth the risk.
According to USA Today: “The bill grants the Vermont Attorney General’s Office the job of establishing rules surrounding the labels.” Meat, dairy, alcohol and prepared food in restaurants escaped the labeling requirements.
Unfortunately, even this small step for two years down the road might be too late with the looming Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014. It is being called the DARK Act by opponents because it would ban state measures to label, and defer to the FDA – who relies solely on the word of Big Biotech. This would effectively undo and ban any state labeling laws.
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