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.

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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5/13/2014 | 8:38 AM CDT
Jay Doesn't that mean if I have a home theater system and I go out and buy a DVD, that is one of those little round things that has moving pictures on it, and then charge the neighbors a buck a piece to come in and watch it that that is OK? And really, just send me you town and state just once so I can look up and see how honest you are.
Bonnie Dukowitz
5/13/2014 | 5:02 AM CDT
I wonder if the whacky tobacky in Colorado glows in the dark from gmos or is the natural stuff the Natives smoked?
5/12/2014 | 9:14 PM CDT
Jay boy you are really grasping at straws now. It doesn't take long to get some people off on a tangent. Look up the word patent it might help to straighten out your dilemma.
Jay Mcginnis
5/12/2014 | 3:41 PM CDT
Food Nazis's Gordon??? What about the "seed Nazis's? Why aren't you opposed to the federalize protecting patents on living organisms, having to send PI's out to check on farmers genetic make up of fields compared to their seed buying records? That isn't infringement on personal right's by the fed? I thought you tea people didn't like the federal government and here they are allowed on private property to make sure you aren't violating intellectual property (OMG the word intellectual!!!!). Such regulating surely adds to the price of seeds and you can't pass that cost on! So how much would the ink for writing GMO Products on a label cost compared to the extra costs of defending intellectual property cost? Now if you say Monsanto is right then you must recognize the Federal government's role is right,,,,, how are you explaining that to your folk hero Bundhi dude?
5/12/2014 | 11:46 AM CDT
Why make everyone pay the extra price for labeling when all you have to do is label the NON GMO products , it will cost less and the whole American public will not have to bear the cost of the Food Nazis special needs to keep a small number whiners happy it will be a small price to pay for your special needs.
Bonnie Dukowitz
5/12/2014 | 10:56 AM CDT
If the general public would get out of the stadiums and RVs and into the garden, this would be a moot point. example; Is it not the apple that shines and has no blemishes which sells the best? Then we blame the evil chemical companies.
Jay Mcginnis
5/12/2014 | 10:10 AM CDT
Monsanto makes it clear they "own" their product after the farmer produces the crop in the fact that they can sue if you use the prodigy. So why do they wish to hide from it on the grocery shelf? Just label it if you own it, even if it's "GMO WITH PRIDE" if you're saving the world then promote it! It shouldn't be difficult, everything is now GMO! Just label it all that!
chris jones
5/12/2014 | 9:41 AM CDT
Folks might recall that some in the industry tried to prevent antibiotic-free milk from being labeled as such. Whether it is worth the extra cost, or not, face it, some people want food that is produced with alternative methods. Yes, unfortunately there are some people that want to use labeling as a way to discredit modern agriculture. But it seems to me that mainstream food/crop production must a develop a cohesive strategy that embraces labeling in some way. Clearly GMO, antibiotics, etc. have had some positive benefits for society. The industry appears either intellectually lazy, or like it has something to hide, by resisting labeling at every turn, IMO.
Bonnie Dukowitz
5/12/2014 | 8:07 AM CDT
Does Vermont produce more food for human energy than they consume? If not, this law would rectify itself on the effective date. Wild mountain mushrooms make good frosting but does not make the burger. If GMA members cannot meet the demands, don't ship your product there.
Curt Zingula
5/12/2014 | 6:53 AM CDT
Jay, what grocery store shelf products does Monsanto sell that it can label?
5/11/2014 | 12:28 PM CDT
Let the food elitist label their non GMO and organic and free range or whatever else they should happen to dream up to prove they are superior and greater and holier than the majority of the rest of us. There is no need to make food more expensive and have a label that reads like War and Peace just label the Non GMO products it will only add to the Non GMO products which should not bother the true believers .
Jay Mcginnis
5/10/2014 | 7:57 AM CDT
hey Monsanto, why aren't you real proud of your product??? You own it enough to take DNA tests when you sue farmers for using their own seed so why don't you label your final product with the same proprietary love???? If its so great lane it WITH PRIDE!!!!!