National associations representing food and snack manufacturers are suing the state of Vermont over its law passed last month that will require foods produced with genetically modified ingredients to be labeled as such beginning July 2016. The lawsuit was filed jointly by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), the Snack Food Association, the International Dairy Foods Association and the National Association of Manufacturers. Together, those associations represent hundreds of food and beverage manufacturers, as well as pesticide and pharmaceutical companies. In a statement on the lawsuit, GMA called the law “a costly and misguided measure that will set the nation on a path toward a 50-state patchwork of GMO labeling policies that do nothing to advance the health and safety of consumers.” The association is also arguing that federal law “prohibits Vermont from regulating nationwide distribution and labeling practices that facilitate interstate commerce.” Vermont’s was the first “no-strings-attached” GMO labeling bill to pass in any state. Other labeling laws have passed in Maine and Connecticut, but those require other states to pass similar laws before theirs can go into effect. The Vermont law is expected to affect eight out of every 10 food items in grocery stores. The lawsuit is unlikely to come as a surprise. At the time of the bill’s passage, key Vermont lawmakers were quoted as saying there was bound to be a major legal battle ahead. Legislators included a $1.5-million legal defense fund in the bill to help cover the anticipated expense. Proponents of GMO labeling were also prepared for the filing. “Today’s move by the Grocery Manufacturers Association to prevent Vermont from requiring food companies to disclose the truth about what they put in the billions of dollars’ worth of food they sell to consumers is a desperate attempt to protect corporate shareholder profits at the expense of consumers’ rights and health,” said Organic Consumers Association’s National Director Ronnie Cummins in a statement sent to reporters. Cummins added that the supporters of labeling were anticipating a win in court: “Every precaution was taken to ensure that Vermont’s H. 112 would withstand any and all legal challenges, and legal experts agree that that the bill will hold up in federal court.”

  • Joe Blow

    It will be interesting to see the outcome here. I have heard the rumblings if this Vermont law stands many food businesses will just stop distributing to Vermont. Being a non-Vermont resident this has no affect on me if these food businesses actually boycott distribution to Vermont. Very interested to see if that actually takes place.

    • tallen2007

      I’d consider moving to VT if garbage is not allowed to be sold there!

      • grifty

        Or you could just buy all organic products and stop complaining. There is already an avenue for you to get what you want. It merely costs 2-3x.

      • Linda Adsit

        So would I.

    • If Vermont prevails, a dozen states will be on its heels. The only thing that has held states back is not wanting to be the first.

    • grifty

      The biggest problem with that, is that there is no practical method to prevent commerce between states. I mean who gets the fine if you sell a unlabeled GMO product in Vt? The “importer” would be the most likely person, but you can’t nab them for that much money..and if they don’t exist in your state as a business, it could be even harder. What happens when you order something online?

  • grifty

    It always blows my mind how people shout about how the pro-biotech companies science is untrustworthy and their only motivation is profit, but seemingly turn a blind eye to the opponents..who stand the most to gain financially (like the OCA and land developers)