The Vermont state senate passed H.112, a bill that would require mandatory labeling of foods sold in Vermont that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The bill also makes it illegal to call any food product containing GMOs “natural” or “all natural.” The vote was passed 28 to 2.
The bill will now go back to the House, which is expected to agree to the Senate’s amendments. Then the bill will go to Gov. Peter Shumlin, who is expected to sign it.
The Vermont bill differs from other bills passed in 2013 in Maine and Connecticut that require four or five other states to pass GM labeling laws before theirs can be enacted. Vermont’s law does not contain any “trigger” clauses and would go into effect July 1, 2016.
The measure was met with praise by organic groups, but is not expected to gain favor with the mainstream agriculture industry, which has been battling individual states that have tried to pass GMO labeling laws.
The Organic Consumers Association issued a statement in favor of the legislation and fully expected Monsanto will sue over the proposed bill.
“We expect that the Grocery Manufacturers Association, a multi-billion lobbying group representing more than 300 food, pesticide and drug makers, will try to pass their ‘Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014,’ introduced last week by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), intended to strip Vermont, and all other states, of their right to pass GMO labeling laws. And we expect that Congress will not pass this law, dubbed the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act, which seeks to deny consumers the right to know if their food has been genetically engineered, and deny states the right to enact laws designed to protect public health,” said Ronnie Cummins, national director of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA).
Vermont’s recent legislation could put pressure on the federal government to pass the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014, which was proposed to create a voluntary labeling program at the federal level, which would prevent states from creating their own individual laws, making it extremely difficult for food companies to distribute their products.