GMO Labeling Coming To Vermont

By Michael Bielawski, originally posted on

The state of Vermont should become the first state in the nation to begin labeling its GMO foods starting July 2016, and on April 27 the law cleared its first legal challenge.

“It’s pretty much being viewed as the first step in what’s going to be a longer legal battle,” said Maddie Monty, Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) Vermont Office manager and policy advisor. “It’s the first initial hearing between the state of Vermont and the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the International Dairy Foods Association who are suing the state. Basically the plaintiffs were requesting a preliminary injunction, and the judge had responded with a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.”

That means the plaintiffs were trying to put a stop to the law before it takes effect next year. The plaintiff’s complaints were mostly related to First Amendment constitutional claims that, basically, Vermont’s GMO labeling law was compelled speech.

“They claim it violates their First Amendment right to basically have the final say on what they put on their packaging,” she said.

“Vermont’s claim in defense was the people have a vested interest in knowing basically what’s in their food and whether the food is produced with genetic engineering for environmental, philosophical, religious … all sorts of different reasons. So the judge found that the state does have a substantial interest in the consumers’ knowledge about genetically engineered foods.”

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