The Vermont Senate has passed a bill that would make it the first US state to enact mandatory labeling of foods made with genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. Unlike bills passed last year in Maine and Connecticut, which require other states to pass GMO labeling laws before they can be enacted, Vermont's contains no such trigger clause.
Vermont's effort comes as the developers of genetically modified crops and the $360 billion US packaged food industry push for passage of an opposing bill introduced in Congress last week that would nullify any law that would require labeling of foods made with genetically modified crops.
GMO labeling is just one front in an increasingly high-stakes food fight raging in the United States, where consumers increasingly are demanding to know where their food comes from and how it was produced. "We have a growing food movement in which people are demanding more transparency," says Michele Simon, a public health attorney and president of Eat Drink Politics. When it comes to GMO labeling, "the issue is disclosure of a technology that people have real concerns about," Simon says.
Vermont's bill, approved 28-2 by the Senate, has already passed the state House of Representatives. It now goes back to the House to see whether members will approve changes made by the Senate. If passed, the law would take effect July 1, 2016.
"We are really excited that Vermont is going to be leading on this," said Falko Schilling, a spokesman for the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, which backed the bill.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, there are GMO labeling bills under consideration in 29 states.