Ag Policy Blog

GMA Vows Litigation Over Vermont Labeling Law

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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The Grocery Manufacturers Association said Thursday the group would file a lawsuit to overturn Vermont's new biotech labeling law signed by Gov. Pete Shumlin.

GMA, which represents the country's largest food processors, said Shumlin signed a "critically-flawed" bill that will require food companies to label any foods containing any ingredients from genetically modified crops. The law will go into effect in mid-2016.

“Consumers who prefer to avoid GM ingredients have the option to choose from an array of products already in the marketplace labeled ‘certified organic.’ The government therefore has no compelling interest in warning consumers about foods containing GM ingredients, making this law’s legality suspect at best. In light of this fact, in the coming weeks GMA will file suit in federal court against the state of Vermont to overturn the law.

GMA stated the Vermont law "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.

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GMA champions legislation sponsored by Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act. That bill would specify any decisions on labeling biotech foods would have to be made by the Food and Drug Administration. Labels would be required for any ingredient from a biotech crop that has a proven food-safety concern.

“GM crops are safe and have important benefits for people and our planet. They use less water and fewer pesticides, reduce crop prices by 15-30 percent and can help us feed a growing global population of seven billion people. The FDA, World Health Organization, American Medical Association and U.S. National Academy of Science have all found that foods and beverages that contain GM ingredients are safe and materially no different than conventionally produced products," GMA stated.

Connecticut and Maine have labeling laws that do not kick in until nearby states with at least 20 million people adopt such laws. A committee in the New York Assembly has advanced a bill. Farther west, the Center for Food Safety stated Oregon's Supreme Court approved a ballot measure on biotech labeling for the November election.

WRRDA Agreement Reached

Leaders negotiating on the reauthorization of funding authorization for waterway infrastructure projects announced Thursday evening they had reached a "bipartisan, bicameral agreement" on the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) conference report.

Senator Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Penn., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Sen. David Vitter, R-La., ranking member of the EPW Committee, and Rep. Nick Rahall, D-West Va., Transportation Committee ranking member, issued a joint statement:

“We are proud to deliver what the American public wants and needs. This conference report maintains ports and navigation routes for commerce and the movement of goods, provides flood control that protects lives and property, and restores vital ecosystems to preserve our natural heritage. This important measure will strengthen our Nation’s infrastructure and keep America competitive in the global marketplace.”

The lawmakers said the paperwork will be finalized next week to bring the bill to the floors of both the House and Senate. Leaders from both chambers would like to pass the bill before lawmakers break for Memorial Day.

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