GMO Labeling Legislation in Vermont

Pending and new legislation, pertinent to the Texas Seed Trade

GMO Labeling Legislation in Vermont

Postby buzz0x0000 » Mon Jun 09, 2014 12:51 pm

Brownfield Ag News reports:

A GMO-labeling bill is working its way through the state legislature in Vermont. The House passed a bill late last year which would require products containing genetically modified ingredients to state-so on the label. The Vermont State Senate passed a similar bill this week.

That bill will now be reconciled with the House version, once that is completed the bill will go to the governor for his signature.

David Zuckerman is vice-chair of the State Senate Agriculture Committee, he says Vermont has been quite aggressive in dealing with GMOs in the past including the requirement that seed companies annually report how much GM seed they sell in the state each year.

He says up until a few years ago, they would not have considered a labeling law for fear of legal challenges but given recent court rulings around the country, they decided to move forward. The bill passed by the State Senate would require that if a product may or does contain genetically modified ingredients it be indicated in the list of ingredients on the package. It also prohibits the use of terms like "natural" on products containing GMOs. Zuckerman says the whole premise is to give consumers the information and let them decide: "it's a disclosure, nothing says they have to change anything that they do." The specific rules will be written by the Vermont Attorney General.

Meat and milk products would not require labeling, Zuckerman says meat labeling is highly regulated at the federal level and "there's not much evidence showing secondary consumption as having any real risk." He says the bigger question is with direct consumption of GMO products.

The Senator says while opponents say the law would be in violation of free speech or compelled speech laws, supporters contend consumers have the right to know what is in a product. As for inhibiting interstate commerce, Zuckerman says suppliers can easily and at little cost, put a sticker on the labels of products going into Vermont or choose to not sell the product in the state. The bill does create a fund to help with the legal defense of the law.

Unlike states where ballot initiatives have been attempted, Zuckerman says there has not been a lot of pressure on the legislators from outside sources. "I think the people who are opposed to the bill look at Vermont as a lost-cause from their perspective and decided to save their resources."

Implementation is targeted for July, 2016.
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