Against the odds and the lofty wallets of Monsanto lobbyists, Vermont is soon to be the first state to require mandatory GMO labeling.
On April 16, with a vote of 28 to 2, the Vermont state senate passed a bill that makes GMO labeling mandatory for all foods sold in Vermont. It also identifies it as being illegal for GMO-containing foods to be labelled as “natural” or “all natural.”
This is the first bill of its kind and a huge success for the grassroots efforts of Vermont activists. Bills previously passed in Maine and Connecticut have contained trigger clauses to avoid direct lawsuits, meaning that the bills would not be enacted until 4 or 5 other states had passed GMO labeling laws. But Vermont senators included no such clause, making this hopefully the first straightforward, “clean” GMO labeling bill to be passed in the US.
Logically, the benefits of this bill, if passed as expected, will ripple into other states. All large companies would be forced to either label ALL of their products to inform consumers of GMO inclusion, or reformulate their recipes to exclude GMO-containing ingredients rather than taking their scarlet letter. This would be a huge win not only for Vermont, but the entire country. Consumers would finally have the ability to discover where GMOs are lurking.
Make no mistake, Monsanto will probably try to sue the state of Vermont. But, if it continues along the current trend, Monsanto will lose and national GMO labeling will become a step closer to reality. Sixty other countries, including the European Union, require GMO labeling.
If all goes according to plan — the GMA’s†Safe & Accurate Food Labeling Act/Deny Americans the Right to Know Act is up in contention in Congress — and the Vermont bill emerges from the House unscathed and with the Governor’s approval, Vermontís GMO labeling bill is planned to go into effect on July 1, 2016.
Congratulations Vermont! Who’s next?