Concerned about being unable to avoid GMOs? If so, you might consider moving to Vermont. A little over a year ago, Vermont became the first state to pass a law requiring labeling of food products that contain GMO ingredients. Met with swift opposition from Big Food trade associations like the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), the law’s constitutionality was challenged in court. Almost exactly a year after the bill’s initial passage, we can celebrate another win: the law was upheld in a federal district court and it will go into effect in 2016.
GMO labeling is a contentious issue, with folks like GMA spending heaps of money in attempts to thwart efforts to increase labeling laws. In their joyous press release on the Vermont decision, Center for Food Safety explains the importance of this decision:
This important ruling affirms the constitutionality of genetically engineered food labeling, as well as the rights of Vermonters and U.S. citizens across the country,” said George Kimbrell, senior attorney for Center for Food Safety and counsel in the case. “Americans are demanding the right to know if their food is produced through genetic engineering, for health, environmental and many other reasons. This decision is a crucial step in protecting those rights.”
There are other states and municipalities that are looking to pass similar laws, and this Vermont decision will set a strong precedent for the pro-labeling contingent. The anti-labelers are fearful as represented by the almost immediate appeal filed by the GMA. Here’s the GMA’s reasoning as explained through Lydia Wheelers recent article in The Hill:
The court’s opinion in denying our request to block the Vermont law opens the door to states creating mandatory labeling requirements based on pseudo-science and web-fed hysteria,” GMA President Pamela Bailey said in the release. “If this law is allowed to go into effect, it will disrupt food supply chains, confuse consumers and lead to higher food costs.”
The GMA wants to protect the consumer, eh? When we consider the problematic issues that the GMA has supported in the past, and their Big Food backers, Bailey’s statement is a good sound bite but it is a little thin on substance. For a retort to the GMA, check out Stonyfield Farms' Gary Hirshberg’s recent interview on Bloomberg where he explains that GMO labeling laws in other countries have been proven to not raise food costs at all.
This is an historic moment in consumer advocacy and protection. While we don’t know all of the effects of GMOs there is enough concern that "We the Eaters" would like to know when they are in out food. We now have that right!
Image via VPIRG’s Vermont Label GMOs Campaign
Court Declares Vermont’s Genetically Engineered Food Labeling Law Constitutional via Center for Food Safety
We Need to Know What's in Food: Stonyfield's Hirshberg via Bloomberg