Governor Peter Shumlin made history when he signed a bill into law making Vermont the first state to require the labeling of genetically modified foods. The new law will take effect July 1, 2016, so in just two years, residents of the state of Vermont can expect to GMO labels on foods.
While many were cheering the signing of the bill, Shumlin announced an online fundraiser set up to help battle the expected legal challenges to the new law. Opponents to the law have already threatened lawsuit, and the Grocery Manufacturers’ Association has state government has no compelling interest in warning consumers about GMO foods.
Shumlin, aware of the upcoming challenges, asked for support from those not just in Vermont, but across the country.
“We are asking people all across America, and all across the great state of Vermont, to go to (the website) and make a donation, so that we can win the Vermont Food Fight Fund fight not only for Vermont, but for America,” he said.
Vermont’s law calls for the labeling of processed GMO foods and asks retailers to post signs on displays of unpackaged genetically engineered food. A penalty of $1,000 per day for “false certification” is also included in the law. Restaurants are exempt from all requirements.
“Vermonters will have the right to know what’s in their food,” Shumlin said. “We are pro-information. Vermont gets it right with this bill.”
Though some may not support such legislation whether it comes from the state or federal level, GMO labeling should be seeing some major political action in the coming months. There is currently a House bill proposing voluntary labels on GMO foods. Through this bill, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration would create the guidelines for the labels, not the states.
However, it may be too late for that kind of legislation. Though Vermont was the first to sign a bill into law directly implementing GMO labeling, both Maine and Connecticut have passed laws requiring GMO labels if neighboring states require the same.