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Judge: Vermont’s GMO-Labeling Law and Industry Lawsuit Can Both Proceed

U.S. District Court Judge Christina Reiss decided Monday to let Vermont go ahead with its plans to become the first state to require labeling of food containing genetically modified ingredients on July 1, 2016, and to let the Grocery Manufacturers of America-led litigation to stop it from happening proceed.

Both sides were left going through the trial judge’s 84-page decision to see where she agrees and disagrees with both sides. Reiss, who was appointed to the federal bench in 2009 by President Barack Obama, has definitely left both sides with plenty to chew on.

gmolabels-406Although the state wanted the lawsuit dismissed, Attorney General William Sorrell told local media there is much in the judge’s decision that goes the state’s way for the “heart and soul” of the labeling law. But the Vermont AG acknowledged it may be a reach for the state in other areas, including its desire to ban food companies using genetically modified ingredients from using the word “natural.”

Like Sorrell, the grocery industry is going through the decision looking for where its case was helped or hurt.

“While we are pleased that the District Court found us likely to succeed on several of our claims, we are nevertheless  disappointed by the court’s ultimate decision to deny our Motion for Preliminary Injunction to block the implementation of the Vermont GMO labeling law — Act 120 — on grounds that the manufacturers had not yet shown a sufficient degree of harm. We are reviewing this decision and considering our legal options,” GMA said in a post-decision statement.

“Manufacturers are being harmed, and they are being harmed now,” GMA added. “Act 120 is unconstitutional and imposes burdensome new speech requirements on food manufacturers and retailers. It will also set the nation on a path toward a 50-state patchwork of GMO labeling policies that will be costly and confusing for consumers.”

The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) applauded the court’s decision, suggesting that it has positive implications for other states looking to pass GMO-labeling legislation.

“This landmark ruling not only paves the way for Vermont’s GMO labeling law to take effect on schedule, July 1, 2016, but more importantly it signals that the courts agree that states have a constitutional right to pass GMO labeling laws,” said Ronnie Cummins, OCA’s international director.

“This ruling also bodes well for GMO labeling bills that are moving through other state legislatures, including Maine, where a public hearing on Maine’s LD 991 is scheduled for April 30,” Cummins added.

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin signed Act 120 into a law a year ago, and rules to implement it next year were released earlier this month.

© Food Safety News
  • McBee

    FINALLY!!! To GMA- Easy not have a “patch work” of laws… Just don’t put GMOs in our foods or crops for animal food!!!

  • Debbie Eggers

    This is a great start.. It amazes me how worried they are for the manufacturers of the food but don’t give a crap about the poisons in our food or giving us the choice as an informed consumer to buy what we want for our families knowing the true contents.

    • grifty

      There is no evidence that the food is poisoned, thus no evidence based reason for “them” (not sure who they were in your comment) to be concerned.

      As far as the informed decision goes, you already have the choice: if you want to avoid GMO, buy organic, food that is “gmo free verified” or one of the many companies that voluntarily claim no gmo.

      • Jorge Mendez Santiago

        so if we wamt to eat non gmos we have to but organic….. i use to read the labels and never saw genetically modified…… i didnt have the option to not eat it cause i didnt know….. if it was labeled then atleast it would have been my decision to make…… so as far as im concered as a consumer if its not labeled then i dont have a choice and its also misleading because i thought that that product was “natural” and its also extremely costly because they took my momey without telling me

  • grifty

    “Act 120 is unconstitutional and imposes burdensome new speech requirements on food manufacturers and retailers”

    This is going to be the nail in the coffin when it ends up at the supreme court. Given that there is no health or safety concerns that are supported by the extensive science on the issue, it really comes down to an issue of choice. And there already is a market based solution to solve that problem.

  • A link to a copy of the decision. It’s quite involved.

    Vermont hasn’t won the case, but it did do well in the decision.

    http://docs.burningbird.net/cases/vermont/document95.pdf

  • Jackie Schmidts

    Foods made from GMOs are very safe to consume, there is no science to the contrary. All Vermont’s law will do if allowed by the court will to be to increase the cost of food for consumers. The law is nothing more than liberal extremist food terrorism. Consumers do have a choice, buy organic and pay more. But don’t force your choice on the food industry and consumers who don’t care.

    • Mike

      “Foods…. are safe, there is no science to the contrary”. Just because science has not found any unsafe side-effects of non-GMOs is a far cry away from proving it to be safe. Trans fats used to be considered perfectly safe. Asbestos was considered safe. The list goes on. Not to mention the carcinogenic pesticides that are applied to round-up resistant GMO crops. I believe USDA still does no or very limited testing of roundup residues in crops. These are things that concern me.

  • denise dander

    People need to be educated. There is not enough education out there. You have big GMO company paying for hundreds of articles saying that GMO’a are safe. We need more in opposition.

  • What Up

    Labeling of GM cheese is exempt. Why? Because vermont is a big cheese producing state. Exact same thing happened in hawaii when they proposed a gm labeling bill (the bill excluded gm papayas).

    • Bill Pilacinski

      Actually, virtually all the cheese in the world, including organic is GM because of GM chymosin, an enzyme that cause milk to curdle, a critical step in cheese production. Like the Vermont law, for political reasons, the EU exempted chymosin, as a “processing aid”, along with most other food enzymes, which are also mostly GM – probably also the yeast and bacteria strains used to make the cheese and also wine – again, they are all “processing aids”, so we will never know. So where is the sanctimonious “right to know” what’s in your food? Don’t believe me? Check it out on the EU Commission’s website.