A federal trial court judge’s April 27 decision allowing the state of Vermont to proceed with new rules requiring labels for genetically modified food is being appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston.
The appeal was announced May 6 in a joint statement from the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), the Snack Food Association, the International Dairy Foods Association, and the National Association of Manufacturers.
Last month, the U.S. District Court for Vermont ruled against the industry groups’ request for a preliminary injunction to bring a halt to the implementation schedule of the new law. Vermont officials have issued the rule package they say will be necessary to implement the requirements for labeling foods with genetically engineered ingredients.
In rejecting the request, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Christina Reiss found that the industry groups only presented evidence of the “possibility of harm,” not actual harm. In her opinion, the judge seemed to indicate that if irreparable harm had been proven, she would have been inclined to grant the preliminary injunction.
GMA filed a notice of appeal May 6 and plans to file the actual appeal documents in the coming weeks.
The group says the Vermont judge’s ruling opens the door to states imposing food regulations based on “pseudo-science and web-fed hysteria.”
“If this law is allowed to go into effect, it will disrupt food supply chains, confuse consumers and lead to higher food costs,” said GMA President Pamela Bailey.
The Center for Food Safety (CFS), which has petitioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to mandate the labeling of all foods produced using genetic engineering, said while the industry appeal was expected, Judge Reiss’ decision was an important one for affirming the constitutionality of such labeling.
“Americans are demanding the truth in labeling that citizens in 64 other countries already have. This decision is a crucial step in protecting those rights,” said George Kimbrell, a senior attorney for CFS.
Four states (California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington) have narrowly rejected labeling genetically modified foods, while two other New England states voted to follow similar laws if surrounding states also adopt them. Vermont is the only state so far to adopt a stand-alone law.© Food Safety News