Vermont’s attorney general has asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont to dismiss a lawsuit by a group of food manufacturer trade associations to overturn Vermont’s law requiring labels on genetically modified food beginning in July 2016.
“The State’s motion makes the case that Vermont’s labeling law withstands all five challenges to its constitutionality made by Plaintiffs and that the Court should dismiss the suit without requiring the State to answer the Complaint or engage in further litigation,” William H. Sorrell wrote in documents submitted to the court on Friday.
“While the Plaintiffs prefer not to disclose that their products are made with genetic engineering, over 90 percent of the general public supports labeling genetically engineered foods,” he added.
Right after the Vermont Legislature passed the bill in May requiring labels on food products containing genetically modified ingredients, the state was sued by the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the Snack Food Association, the International Dairy Foods Association and the National Association of Manufacturers.
Lawmakers had anticipated such a legal challenge and included a $1.5-million legal defense fund in the bill to help cover the anticipated expense.
Sorrell’s motion also argues that the Vermont law, as opposed to industry claims, serves legitimate state interests and is not vague, and that labeling GE foods and not allowing them to be described as “natural” is appropriate under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The food industry groups have 30 days to respond to Sorrell’s motion to dismiss, and the state will then have a chance to reply before the court makes a decision. Sorrell also asked for oral arguments on the motion, so no action is expected for several months.© Food Safety News