Senate passes GMO labeling bill - VTDigger

Senate passes GMO labeling bill

The Vermont Senate on Wednesday gave final approval to legislation that will require manufacturers to label foods with genetically engineered raw ingredients.

If H.112 is enacted, Vermont will be the first state in the nation to require labeling of genetically modified organisms. The law would go into effect on July 1, 2016.

GMOs are used in more than 80 percent of processed foods – such as sweeteners, cereals, oils and snack foods – according to federal regulators.

The effect of GMOs on human health is unclear, but Vermont lawmakers say the bill is about a consumer’s right to know what they purchase.

“It’s about consumer information. Period,” said Sen. David Zuckerman, P/D-Chittenden, the lead sponsor of the Senate’s bill.

Though scientists disagree on the health-related impacts of consuming GMOs, Zuckerman, who is vice chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, pointed to their alarming impacts on industrial agriculture.

In some areas of the country, farmers who use the weedkiller Roundup are seeing the rapid growth of herbicide-resistant weeds. In Tennessee, farmers will pay about $120 billion for stronger (and more) herbicides this year, he said.

“And there is no question that the increased use of those herbicides will have an environmental impact,” Zuckerman said. “So if as a consumer you’re concerned about the long-term health of our nation’s soils, water, flora and fauna … then that could be a decision as to why you don’t want to buy a GMO product.”

The bill includes exemptions for animal products, but asks the Attorney General to report back to lawmakers with a recommendation whether to label dairy products containing GMOs.

“Ideally, as a consumer, I would like the labeling on a broader range of products,” Zuckerman said. “(But) I didn’t want to lose the bill on legal grounds because of my wishes. I wanted to get through what we can do that is defensible.”

Bill Sorrell, the Vermont Attorney General, anticipates constitutional challenges from biotech industry. The bill sets up a $1.5 million special fund for legal challenges funded through private donations, state appropriations, and settlements. Sorrell estimates it would cost $1 million to win a case, but if the state lost, the cost could be $5 million or more.

Zuckerman said members of the House generally supported the Senate’s version of the bill.

Rep. Teo Zagar, D-Barnard, who serves on the Agriculture Committee, played an active role in moving the bill through the House last year.

“I’m quite satisfied with what the Senate has done,” Zagar said.

He expected the Senate to keep a trigger in place that would enact the law sooner if other states passed similar policies.

“But I was pleasantly surprised that they kept it open and kept it with a date certain,” he said. “I’m pleased with it.”

John Herrick

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7 Comments on "Senate passes GMO labeling bill"


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2 years 9 months ago
I will bet you today that all VT legislators who are sheparding this GMO labeling bill have already been informed from “above” that it’s OK to proceed since Congress is going to intervene and overrule ALL such state involvement in GMO “commerce” anyway….. Thus the VT bill becomes charade, and a great opportunity for grandstanding. And there will be another, when the Feds actually do this and all of our “Heros” can then denounce the bad old Congress to the people and in the press—while not harming a single hair on Monsanto’s head. All fakery. Ten bucks. Any takers? 2LT… Read more »
victor ialeggio
2 years 9 months ago
“Above?” And who might that be? Mike Pompeo (R Kansas) and GK Butterfield (D N Carolina), the Monsanto stooges for the initiative to which you refer, have a combined legislative effectiveness hovering around 2%. from Pompeo’s site: “The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014 [H4432] would establish a federal labeling standard for foods with genetically modified ingredients, giving sole authority to the Food and Drug Administration to require mandatory labeling on such foods if they are ever found to be unsafe or materially different from foods produced without GM ingredients.” FDA administration (from industry, on a revolving basis)… Read more »
krister adams
2 years 9 months ago

Thank you Senators.

Connie Godin
2 years 9 months ago

Just YEAH!!!!

Desiree Wyatt
2 years 9 months ago

Thank you, but….what about Mike Pompeo (R-Kan) ?

Judith Persin
2 years 8 months ago
A relative in PA said the GMO victory in Vermont was on the front page of her newspaper. Not here! The Valley News here puts the stupidest things on the front page; then something that is a significant accomplishment, and the first of a historical event, is suppressed (that happens in their very own area). Just think how many more people would have been drawn to see that on the front page and become more curious about GMOs in their food! Like the legislators who voted against the labeling bill, The Valley News is a liability to the people of… Read more »
Dan Emerson
2 years 8 months ago
Go Vermont. You deserve highest accolades and d massive support for making the first hard “shot heard ’round the USA, Wall St. and possibly the World”. You uphold our hard won rights noted the Declaration of Independence and our right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Those rights include the Liberty from agribusiness efforts to decide what we should know, allowing us to Pursue Happiness in knowing we can make well informed choices of food that affect the Life of our family, friends, and pets. May Masschusetts soon join you, and may sufficient states ensure defeat of US… Read more »
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