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Vermont Moves Toward Labeling of GMO Foods

April 24, 2014
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By DAVE GRAM and LISA RATHKE, Associated Press


Vermont lawmakers have passed the country's first state bill to require the labeling of genetically modified foods, underscoring a division between powerful lobbyists for the U.S. food industry and an American public that overwhelmingly says it approves of the idea.

The Vermont House approved the measure Wednesday evening, about a week after the state Senate, and Gov. Peter Shumlin said he plans to sign it. The requirements would take effect July 1, 2016, giving food producers time to comply.

Shumlin praised the vote. "I am proud of Vermont for being the first state in the nation to ensure that Vermonters will know what is in their food," he said in a statement.

Read more on GMO labeling at Ag in the Courtroom.

Genetically modified organisms have been changed at their genetic roots to be resistant to insects, germs or herbicides. The development in Vermont is important because it now puts the U.S. on the map of governments taking a stance against a practice that has led to bountiful crops and food production but has stirred concerns about the dominance of big agribusiness and the potential for unforeseen effects on the natural environment. Some scientists and activists worry about potential effects on soil health and pollination of neighboring crops.

Twenty-nine other states have proposed bills this year and last to require genetically modified organism — or GMO — labeling, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Two other New England states have passed laws to require GMO labeling, but the legislation takes effect only when neighboring states also approve the requirement. They are Maine and Connecticut; neither neighbor Vermont.

The European Union already has restricted the regulation, labeling and sale of GMO foods. Several credible polls have found that Americans overwhelmingly favor the notion of labeling genetically modified foods. Organic farmers and others are praising Vermont's move, while the Washington, D.C.-based Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents food producers, called it a step in the wrong direction.

As farmers, Katie Spring and her husband are proud of how they grow their greens, carrots, potatoes, peppers and herbs and raise their chickens and pigs at their Worcester, Vt., farm and are willing to answer questions from customers. As eaters, Spring feels like she and her customers have the right to know what's in their food, whether it's saturated fat or genetically modified organisms, which they don't use on their farm.

But the industry is opposed.

"It sets the nation on a costly and misguided path toward a 50-state patchwork of GMO labeling policies that will do nothing to advance the safety of consumers," the grocers' association said in a statement.

The association is disappointed that Vermont is going at it alone and had hoped for a regional approach. Trying to have 50 different state rules about what goes on food packaging "gets very costly, very confusing and very difficult for the entire food industry to comply with," said the association's president, Jim Harrison.

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RELATED TOPICS: Policy, News, Consumer Demands, GMOs

 
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COMMENTS (4 Comments)

TheStick - Homer, MI
%20Very%20expensive??%20It's%20one%20line%20on%20a%20box,%20just%20like%20peanuts,%20%22May%20contai​n%20genetically%20modified%20organisms%22.%20Everyone%20knows%20Oreo's%20are%20not%20good%20for%20yo​u,%20but%20people%20buy%20them,%20even%20after%20they%20have%20been%20told%20they%20are%20bad%20for%​20them.%20Sorry%20Oreo's,%20still%20love%20them,%20and%20eat%20'em.%20Labeling%20and%20transparency%​20are%20the%20way%20out%20of%20this.%20Big%20Agri%20has%20to%20sell%20it%20to%20the%20consumer%20and​%20not%20hide%20it,%20their%20cross%20to%20bear.​
9:42 PM Apr 28th
 
TheStick - Homer, MI
%20Very%20expensive??%20It's%20one%20line%20on%20a%20box,%20just%20like%20peanuts,%20%22May%20contai​n%20genetically%20modified%20organisms%22.%20Everyone%20knows%20Oreo's%20are%20not%20good%20for%20yo​u,%20but%20people%20buy%20them,%20even%20after%20they%20have%20been%20told%20they%20are%20bad%20for%​20them.%20Sorry%20Oreo's,%20still%20love%20them,%20and%20eat%20'em.%20Labeling%20and%20transparency%​20are%20the%20way%20out%20of%20this.%20Big%20Agri%20has%20to%20sell%20it%20to%20the%20consumer%20and​%20not%20hide%20it,%20their%20cross%20to%20bear.​
9:42 PM Apr 28th
 
TheStick - Homer, MI
Very expensive?? It's one line on a box, just like peanuts, "May contain genetically modified organisms". Everyone knows Oreo's are not good for you, but people buy them, even after they have been told they are bad for them. Sorry Oreo's, still love them, and eat 'em. Labeling and transparency are the way out of this. Big Agri has to sell it to the consumer and not hide it, their cross to bear.
9:42 PM Apr 28th
 
Jason - Richard, SK
If I want to buy a Ford I sure don't want anyone telling me I can only buy a Dodge. Even though they say a Dodge is just as good as a Ford the choice should still be mine right?
GMO or non GMO same difference. The consumer has a right to choose. Otherwise we have a communist mentality to say otherwise.​
5:50 PM Apr 24th
 



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