UPDATED: May 8, 2014
Vermont Governor Pat Shumlin today signed legislation to require the labeling of foods that contain ingredients that are genetically modified (GMOs) or produced with genetic engineering. Vermont is the first state to require mandatory GMO labeling. The effective date is July 1, 2016.
The Vermont House approved the bill as amended by the Senate by a vote of 114-30 on April 24.
It is estimated that 80 percent of all food sold in the United States is at least partially produced from genetic engineering. The bill requires labeling on all such food sold at retail in Vermont, regardless of whether the food was manufactured in the state. Vermont lawmakers included a $1.5 million legal defense fund in the bill because they expect the law to face legal challenges after the signing.
While the bill exempts processing aids, enzymes and milk from cows that have been fed GMO feed, many dairy products that include ingredients derived from GMO crops will be affected, unless they are used in minute amounts (less than 0.9 percent of total weight). Products made with organic ingredients will not be affected.
New York GMO Bill Advances
The New York General Assembly’s Committee on Consumer Affairs and Protection advanced a bill on Tuesday that would require the labeling of GMOs. The committee voted 9-6 to approve AB 3525 and now will send the bill to the Committee on Codes. The bill is similar to Vermont’s legislation as it would take effect without needing the surrounding states to pass labeling bills.
The New York legislation contains the same exemptions for processing aids and milk from cows that have been fed GMO feed or treated with GMO material. The bill must be approved by both the Assembly and the State Senate before the June 19 recess date and signed by the governor before it can become law.
GMO Ingredients Are Safe
The Food and Drug Administration, the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Academy of Sciences all have said that GMO ingredients are safe and there are no negative health effects associated with their use.
IDFA and many other trade organizations oppose individual state legislation on GMO labeling and fully support The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014 introduced last month by Representatives Mike Pompeo (R-KS) and G.K. Butterfield (D-NC). This bill would preempt states from requiring mandatory labeling and establish a federal standard for voluntary labeling of food and beverage products made with GMOs.
IDFA continues to work with the Safe and Affordable Food Coalition, headed by the Grocery Manufacturers Association, on all issues related to GMO labeling. Visit IDFA’s GMO Toolkit for messages and resources.
For more information, contact Ruth Saunders, IDFA vice president of policy and legislative affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.