On Friday, July 1, the Vermont Right to Know GMOs coalition joined Governor Shumlin, U.S. Senator Leahy, U.S. Representative Welch, and supporters from around the country in celebrating Vermont’s first-in-the-nation GMO labeling law taking effect. The celebration took place on the State House lawn, where Governor Shumlin signed the bill into law a little over two years ago. Since the law’s passage, Vermont has been successful in defending the law against legal challenges, and manufacturers such as Kraft, General Mills, Pepsi and Campbell’s have decided to label genetically engineered products around the country.
“Today’s celebration shows once again that Vermont is a place where democracy works. Ninety percent of Americans have consistently asked for labels on genetically engineered food and it took our brave state to step up and put the people’s interests over special interests. Whatever happens going forward, everyone who helped make history today should be incredibly proud,” said VPIRG Consumer and Environmental Advocate Falko Schilling.
“The enactment of Vermont’s GE food labeling law represents a major step forward in food system transparency,” said NOFA VT Policy Advisor Maddie Monty.
The celebration took place under the shadow of looming federal legislation proposed by senators Roberts (R-Kan.) and Stabenow (D-Mich.) aimed at eliminating Vermont’s law and replacing it with a national standard that does not require on-package disclosure, does not have penalties for failure to label, and would exclude a significant portion of genetically engineered products from labeling requirements.
On Wednesday night, June 29, the Senate held a preliminary vote to limit debate on the proposal, where Senator Leahy led a floor fight in opposition, arguing, “Vermonters want to make informed decisions for their families and with their limited grocery budgets.”
Congress will reconvene after the Independence Day holiday and a final Senate vote is expected as early as this week.
If the proposal passes the Senate it will need to be approved by the House before being sent to the President’s desk.
In the meantime food manufacturers will continue to label genetically engineered food products for retail sale in Vermont.