Vermont News Briefs

Shumlin supports GMO labeling concept, but says legislation would likely be trounced by the courts

Gov. Peter Shumlin holds out slim hope that lawmakers and his administration can devise legislation that will require genetically modified organism or GMO labeling on food and sidestep future legal battles.

“I was hoping California would pass it so they could be the guinea pig on that one, but as you know it didn’t pass on referendum,” Shumlin said. “That’s too bad for us, that’s too bad for America. I would love to figure out a resolution to the GMO labeling bill without repeating what we’ve been through before.”

Shumlin said the GMO labeling bill is nearly identical to the bovine somatropin labeling bill that passed during the Dean administration in the 1990s, and failed to meet legal muster in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. For that reason, he suggested another state should take the issue on.

“Why would you go through that again if you could have it be litigated in a different court, different part of the country we’d get the outcome we’d want which is the labeling bill,” Shumlin said. “I think consumers should have the right to know what is in our food, but I don’t think we can get it through our court system because as you know we’ve already lost it there once.

“I would look to work on something that would work that would not require us to go through legal battles. Can we make some steps here that would avoid the courts who are going to just say hey not only did we beat you once but we’ve got the case law to show this is the same case.”

Last year a bill stalled in the House Judiciary Committee because of legal concerns raised by the Shumlin administration.

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Anne Galloway

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  • Renée Carpenter

    “The fight for GMO labeling has moved to Washington State. Have you checked out the Label it WA Facebook page yet? Swing by and give them a like, they’ll love it!

    Here’s where an activist attorney general like Ed Stanak might have been very helpful. Perhaps Peter Shumlin could consult with him to develop a strategy whereby Vermont support the efforts of Washington State, and coordinates a state-by-state public campaign that mirrors the NGO activist networks and is so compelling that the Obama Administration via the FDA MUST label GMOs.

    When the largest Heath Care organization in the country (Kaiser) identifies GMOS as a threat to public health ( ) it is way past time for states to organize to protect its citizens until the federal government steps in to do so.

  • Timothy Sheble-Hall

    Could we at least pass a formal resolution that establishes our desire to label GMO’s?

  • During the 1990’s Ben and Jerry’s was sued by Montsanto, makers of GMO’s and the artificial bovine growth hormone rBGH/rBST. They prevailed, possibly because of the legalese wording on the the label. “Farmers that supply our milk have pledged not to use the artificial bovine growth hormone rBGH/rBST on their cows.” (not an exact quote) It is still on the B&J Pints. check it out.
    Monsanto, has the legal muscle to sue anyone and does. But that s what bullies do! Remember “Eat more Kale” Chick a-whatever lawsuit. .

  • Jeremy Hansen

    This is an issue we need to take seriously, regardless of Monsanto’s legal threats.

    “Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize” from the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology published in September 2012 says:

    “The health effects of a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize (from 11% in the diet), cultivated with or without Roundup, and Roundup alone (from 0.1 ppb in water), were studied 2 years in rats. In females, all treated groups died 2–3 times more than controls, and more rapidly. This difference was visible in 3 male groups fed GMOs. […] Females developed large mammary tumors almost always more often than and before controls, the pituitary was the second most disabled organ; the sex hormonal balance was modified by GMO and Roundup treatments. In treated males, liver congestions and necrosis were 2.5–5.5 times higher. […] Marked and severe kidney nephropathies were also generally 1.3–2.3 greater. Males presented 4 times more large palpable tumors than controls which occurred up to 600 days earlier. […] These results can be explained by the non linear endocrine-disrupting effects of Roundup, but also by the overexpression of the transgene in the GMO and its metabolic consequences.”

  • This GMO labelling debate has been a long-withstanding issue that has not been resolved.

  • Susan Benedict

    You know we have just got to stop being nice and law abiding citizens. The laws prohibiting school segregation and school prayer were passed and they were just ignored by much of the country. Some cities have spent (and are still fighting) the last 60 years fighting school integration (see People Who Care v. Rockford School District IL) So let’s stand there with our hands in our pockets and go “Whaaaat?” And see what happens. Shumlin & Sorrell are just being too nice and honest at the justice game. They need to be bullies and get sneaky. WE need to take our lessons from the fights that have been going on Mexico for the last 11 years; India for the last 15 years; Kenya; Bolivia; Argentina; Brazil. So what if the courts throw us out again. We have to fight the good fight. We can’t quit before we start! And I am one of the people who thinks that GMOs should be banned for a minimum of 10 years not labeled. Labeling is a waste of time in my book. Go to any grocery store to the cereal aisle, check every box and it will list “modified corn” as an ingredient. Code for GMO. Every single box.
    If we can’t do better then a Third World Nation…well you figure it out. I say pass legislation that bans GMOs in Vermont for the next 10 years. That is not really a radical position in the world these days. It is quite the status quo. That should throw the Appeals Court for a loop. I can only hope and pray that someone in Montpelier has the #*#** to take action. Peace with every step