GMO labeling laws in Vermont may be over before ever fully enacted. A federal judge, Christian Reiss, is currently pondering if the first GMO labeling law in the country should even go into effect. Judge Reiss has issued “probing questions” for both sides of a pending genetically modified labeling lawsuit. The Grocery Manufacturers Association filed a lawsuit against the state of Vermont to prevent the consumer warning labels from being placed on food on store shelves.
Vermont GMO labeling laws would mandate that processed food made in part or entirely of genetically engineered ingredients contain an informational label to alert consumers. The GMO labels would state that the processed food was “partially produced with genetic engineering,” “produced with genetic engineering,” or “may be produced with genetic engineering.”
The federal judge appears to be focusing on the last aspect of the labeling requirement and heavily questioned Larry Robbins, a private attorney representing the state, about the value of a law that permits manufacturers to say only that their products “may be produced with genetic engineering.” The judge asked why a manufacturing company would go to the expense and bother to determine if a food product actually contains GMOs if they can adhere to the law simply by putting the “may contain” label on the can.
The Vermont State Senate judiciary committee unanimously approved a GMO labeling bill, moving it one step closer to becoming law. The state house passed a similar bill in 2013. The Vermont Public Interest Research Group Consumer Protection feels that states have the right to protect the health and safety of residents and if passed, the GMO labeling bill would further that goal.
An excerpt from Vermont GMO labeling law reads, “Genetically engineered foods post potential risks and for multiple reasons, food produced from genetic engineering should be labeled.”
Food safety advocates and organic farmers are leading the charge to ensure that Americans are aware of what is in the food which ends up on their plates. More than 60 countries around the world already have nationwide GMO labeling laws, and about 80 percent of all food grown and sold in the United States is genetically modified.
Last April, a GMO labeling ban bill was introduced in Congress that would put the federal government in charge of supervising the labeling of all food products with genetically modified ingredients and would ban states from requiring labeling. The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, known as the GMO labeling bill, would mandate that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conduct a safety product review before a food enters the open market.
What do you think about the Vermont GMO labeling law?
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