On a 114 to 30 vote, the Vermont House of Representatives concurred with the State Senate on Wednesday passing a GMO labeling bill. The measure now goes to the Governor Peter Shumlin. Supporters say the Governor will sign it.
Once signed, food companies would have until July of 2016 to include something on the label if the product may contain genetically modified ingredients. Milk and meat products are exempt. The state’s attorney general will write the specific rules.
The bill also sets up an $8 million fund to implement the rules and defend them if necessary. Many anticipate legal challenges to the measure. Backers of the bill such as State Senator David Zuckerman say they can defend the legislation. Zuckerman contends it does not question the safety of genetically modified ingredients, it just makes the information available to consumers. He also contends the impact on interstate commerce would be minimal because there is no need to separate products, just put a label on anything which may contain genetically modified ingredients. And he says that could be done with just a sticker if they like.
This would make Vermont the first state to require GMO labeling, Maine and Connecticut passed labeling laws last year but both are withholding implementation until other states pass similar legislation with the hope of sharing the expense of any litigation.