If signed, a bill passed by Vermont's legislature would make it the first US state to require disclosure for certain foods containing genetically modified ingredients. It would also clear the way for laws in neighboring states.
Last week, Vermont’s House of Representatives passed a bill that, if signed by Gov. Peter Shumlin, will require labeling alerting customers to certain foods that are genetically modified or contain genetically modified ingredients (GMOs). The proposed law would apply to fresh produce and most packaged foods, but would not apply to, among other things, products created from animals that ate GMO feed. A prior attempt to pass a similar law was defeated by voters with the help of heavy marketing campaigns funded by Monsanto and similar companies.
What’s the Big Idea?
The signing of Vermont’s bill could create a domino effect in the New England region, as both Connecticut and Maine have already passed labeling laws that will take effect only if neighboring states adopt similar legislation. Anti-labeling advocates warn that the costs involved in changing the labeling would translate into higher prices at the store. Anticipating potential legal challenges, the Vermont bill also sets up a defense fund that will receive a yearly infusion of up to US$1.5 million. Barring other possible issues, the labels will debut in the summer of 2016.