Vermont Becomes First State To Pass A Bill Requiring GMO Food Labels

Yesterday, Vermont’s House passed a bill that will make the state the first in the country to require labeling of foods that contain genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. All it needs now is the governor’s signature, and he’s expected to slap his John Hancock on it soon.

The bill passed with a 114-30 vote, reports the Burlington Free Press, and also makes it illegal for foods with GMOs to be labeled “all natural” or “natural.”

And while Maine and Connecticut have their own GMO labeling bills, those have clauses that makes them inactive until surrounding states pass similar rules. Vermont’s bill goes into effect July 1, 2016, reports NPR’s The Salt blog.

Proponents are excited and hopeful that the measure will inspire the rest of the country to follow suit.

“Our constituents have spoken. They feel it’s important to know what’s in their food,” said House Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Partridge, D-Windham.

On the other side of the coin, plenty of big names in the food industry are none too pleased, and as such, the state government has included a fund in the bill to deal with probably legal battles.

“I’ll be very surprised if we are not sued if the legislature goes ahead and enacts a mandatory GMO labeling statute,” state Attorney General Sorrell said before the bill passed. “A lot of people might not realize that this is arguably a free speech issue.”

The Grocery Manufacturers Association sounds like it might be just such a party to fight it, responding to the bill in a statement: “It sets the nation on a costly and misguided path toward a 50-state patchwork of GMO labeling policies that will do nothing to advance the safety of consumers.”

From here, it’ll just have to cross the desk of Gov. Peter Shumlin, who sounds like he’s on board to sign the bill.

“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. “I wholeheartedly agree with them and look forward to signing this bill into law.”

GMO bill one step from law [Burlington Free Press]
Bracing For A Battle, Vermont Passes GMO Labeling Bill [The Salt]