Attorneys presenting oral arguments before a federal judge in Burlington, VT, on Wednesday were depicted as giving that state’s first-in-the-nation law requiring labeling of food containing genetically modified ingredients (GMOs) its day in court. Actually, the Vermont law challenged by the Grocery Manufacturers Association has already had 210 days in court, and it’s sure to get many more. Although it will not take effect until July 1, 2016, GMA is seeking a preliminary injunction against the GMO-labeling law signed by Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin in May 2014. The oral arguments heard Wednesday by U.S. District Court Judge Christina Reiss in Burlington were over competing motions. Reiss, who is chief judge for the U.S. District Court in Vermont, reportedly wasted no time in grilling attorneys from both sides. A former state district court judge, Reiss was named to the federal bench in late 2009 by President Obama. Meanwhile, attorneys for Vermont Attorney General William H. Sorrell argued for their competing motion for the court to dismiss the compliant. Sorrell and a bevy of assistant attorneys general are being represented by Larry Robbins of the Washington, D.C.-based law firm of Robbins Russell. In response to questioning by the judge, Robbins said that a label statement that a food product “may” contain genetically engineered ingredients would still provide the consumer with information he or she does not have today. GMA is joined in suing Vermont by the Snack Food Association, the International Dairy Foods Association and the National Association of Manufacturers. Those industry groups argue that the federal government has dominance in the distribution and labeling of food, and that interstate commerce falls far outside state controls. Hogan Lovells U.S. LLP, also based in Washington, D.C., represents the national food groups in the case. Those attorneys include Catherine E. Stetson, E. Desmond Hogan, Judith E. Coleman and Mary H. Wimberly. Matthew B. Byrne with Gravel & Shea PC in Burlington is their local counsel. While there are multiple lawyers on both sides, the judge has limited the number of attorneys involved by denying the requests of outside groups such as the Center for Food Safety to formally intervene in the case. Such outside parties are permitted to file amicus briefs, but not to fully participate. Vermont has raised about $340,000 to help defend the law. The state continues to collect money for the defense on its website. Gov. Shumlin last promoted the fundraising campaign in September when the total collected went over $300,000. The effort is called the “Vermont Food Fight Fund.” Two other New England states have adopted GMO-labeling laws, but Maine and Connecticut made theirs contingent on actions by surrounding states. So far, voters in four states — California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington — have rejected ballot initiatives that sought to impose GMO labeling.