Grocery Groups Sue Vermont Over New GMO Food Labeling Requirement

Back in April, Vermont became the first state to require food companies to label their products if they contained genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. Now various industry food groups are coming together to fight the rule with a lawsuit claiming the law is a “costly and misguided measure” that in the end, the groups say, won’t help consumers.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association and others are challenging the law in federal court in Vermont, and have filed suit to ask a judge to overturn the law. The suit says the rule “will set the nation on a path toward a 50-state patchwork of GMO labeling policies that do nothing to advance the health and safety of consumers,” reports the Associated Press.

“They must revise hundreds of thousands of product packages, from the small to the super-sized,” the suit said. “Then, they must establish Vermont-only distribution channels to ensure that the speech Vermont is forcing them to say, or not say, is conveyed in that state.”

In addition, the lawsuit claims that foods made with GMOs are perfectly safe and as such, the state is exceeding its authority under the U.S. Constitution.

While the the U.S. Food and Drug Administration agrees, ruling that food from modified plants isn’t materially any different from other food, critics of GMOs have called the resulting products environmentally suspect, saying there’s no way to measure the possible ill health effects that could arise in the future.

Maine and Connecticut both have GMO label laws too, but those laws don’t go into effect unless states that share their borders draw up similar rules.

The lawsuit apparently has some breathing room, as the Vermont law won’t go into effect for two more years. Those who violate it will be fined a civil penalty of $1,000 per day per product for “false certification” if the labels don’t note GMO foods or retailers don’t post signs for unpackaged GMO products.

Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell hadn’t seen the lawsuit as of yesterday, but noted that his office is prepared and “we’re ready to fight.”

Grocers sue Vermont over GMO food label law [Associated Press]