Vermont Asks Court to Protect Its Label GMOs in Food Law from Big Food

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Within thirty days of passing the ambitious bill that would require labels noting GMOs in food sold in the state, Vermont was hit with a lawsuit filed by the biotech and big food industries asserting that the law is violating their First Amendment rights.

Now, Vermont’s attorney general has asked the U.S. District Court for Vermont to dismiss the lawsuit and let the bill take effect as scheduled in July of 2016.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association, the Snack Food Association, the International Dairy Foods Association and the National Association of Manufacturers claim that GMOs in food are no different than non-GMO ingredients in food, and to label them would only confuse customers and cost manufacturers money.

Anticipating the lawsuit, Vermont included a $1.5 million legal defense fund in order to cover the legal expenses in fighting the food industry challenge.

“The State’s motion makes the case that Vermont’s labeling law withstands all five challenges to its constitutionality made by Plaintiffs and that the Court should dismiss the suit without requiring the State to answer the Complaint or engage in further litigation,” William H. Sorrell wrote in documents submitted to the court on Friday.

“While the Plaintiffs prefer not to disclose that their products are made with genetic engineering, over 90 percent of the general public supports labeling genetically engineered foods,” he added.

According to Food Safety News, “Sorrell’s motion also argues that the Vermont law, as opposed to industry claims, serves legitimate state interests and is not vague, and that labeling [GMO] foods and not allowing them to be described as “natural” is appropriate under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

Find Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

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Image: Nic Taylor

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