Food groups file lawsuit over Vermont GMO labeling law

Food groups file lawsuit over Vermont GMO labeling law

THE Grocery Manufacturers Assn. (GMA), along with the Snack Food Assn., International Dairy Foods Assn. and National Association of Manufacturers, recently filed a complaint in federal district court in Vermont challenging the state's mandatory genetically modified organism (GMO) labeling law — Act 120 — calling it "a costly and misguided measure that will set the nation on a path toward a 50-state patchwork of GMO labeling policies that do nothing to advance the health and safety of consumers."

According to GMA, Act 120 exceeds the state's authority under the U.S. Constitution.

"Act 120 imposes burdensome new speech requirements — and restrictions — that will affect, by Vermont's count, eight out of every 10 foods at the grocery store, yet Vermont has effectively conceded this law has no basis in health, safety or science," GMA explained. "That is why a number of product categories, including milk, meat, restaurant items and alcohol, are exempt from the law."

GMA said this means that many foods containing GMO ingredients will not actually disclose that fact on a label.

"The First Amendment dictates that when speech is involved, Vermont policy-makers cannot merely act as a pass-through for the fads and controversies of the day," the group said. "It must point to a truly 'governmental' interest, not just a political one."

Additionally, GMA pointed out that the Constitution prohibits Vermont from regulating nationwide distribution and labeling practices that facilitate interstate commerce, which is actually the sole responsibility of the federal government.

"The U.S. Food & Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency have both the mandate and expertise to incorporate the views of all the stakeholders at each link in the chain, from farm to fork," GMA said.

GMA said it looks forward to presenting its legal arguments to the court.

Volume:86 Issue:24

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