The Vermont House of Representatives has passed a bill requiring the labeling of all foods that contain genetically modified organisms, more commonly known as GMOs. The bill, which also prohibits GMO foods from being labeled "all natural" or "natural," requires only Governor Peter Shumlin's signature, which is expected shortly.
While Vermont is not the first state to draft such legislation, the other two states, Connecticut and Maine, have provisions that keep the laws from going into effect until bordering states pass similar regulations. GMO labeling is already required in 64 countries, including the European Union.
Produce suppliers and grocery manufacturers have been vocal in their opposition. "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 Grocery Manufacturers Association released in a statement. The state government has included a fund of $1.5 million in the bill to deal with the likely eventual legal proceedings, according to Vermont Public Radio. The state attorney general, Bill Sorrell, remarked that it could come down to an issue of free speech.
Some 90 percent of America's soybeans and corn are considered genetically modified, and most dairy, poultry and meat producers feed their livestock with GMO feed. Manufacturers claim that 70-80 percent of the packaged food on Vermont shelves will need to be re-labeled.
Vermont's bill would require labeling as of July 1, 2016. According to the Burlington Free Press, the bill offers three options for wording: "partially produced with genetic engineering," "may be produced with genetic engineering," or "produced with genetic engineering."
Manufacturers are suggested to invest in custom color label printers, in order to avoid any penalties and stay up-to-date with any changes in legislation.