Vermont G.M.O. labeling law appears imminent

by Jeff Gelski
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MONTPELIER, VT. — Vermont on April 25 appeared ready to put a labeling bill on food produced with bioengineered ingredients into law. After the state’s Senate passed HB bill 112 by a vote of 28-2 on April 16, the state’s House of Representatives on April 23 passed it by a vote of 114-30. Governor Peter Shumlin indicated he would sign the bill, according to an April 24 on-line story in the Burlington Free Press.

The law would go into effect on July 1, 2016. It would require labeling of food offered for sale by retailers if the food is produced entirely or in part from bioengineering.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association, Washington, spoke out against HB 112 on April 23.

“It sets the nation on a costly and misguided path toward a 50-state patchwork of G.M.O. labeling policies that will do nothing to advance the safety of consumers,” the G.M.A. said. “We are currently in the process of evaluating the legislation to determine the best course of action in response to its passage.

“G.M. (genetically modified) crops are safe and have important benefits for people and our planet. They use less water and fewer pesticides, reduce crop prices by 15% to 30% and can help us feed a growing global population of 7 billion people.”

The G.M.A. said it will determine whether litigation is the appropriate response to the Vermont legislation.

HB 112 gives several reasons why Vermont needs the labeling law. For instance, a public opinion poll conducted by the Center for Rural Studies at the University of Vermont indicates a large majority of Vermonters want the labels. Also, the labels would reduce and prevent consumer confusion and deception, and they would protect religious practices, according to HB 112.

HB 112 would establish a Genetically Engineered Food Labeling Special Fund to pay costs or liabilities incurred by the state’s Attorney General or the state in implementation and administration, including rulemaking.
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