House set to concur on GMO labeling without conference committee

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House set to concur on GMO labeling without conference committee

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 8:47am -- tim

by Anne Galloway The groundbreaking GMO labeling bill passed by the Senate last week sailed through several House committees on Tuesday and was passed by the House Wednesday.

The House concurred with the Senate changes to the bill, and the legislation will move forward without going through the conference committee process.

Governor Peter Shumlin and Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell issued the following statements after the Vermont House concurred with the Senate.

Shumlin said, “I am proud of Vermont for being the first state in the nation to ensure that Vermonters will know what is in their food.  The Legislature has spoken loud and clear through its passage of this bill. I wholeheartedly agree with them and look forward to signing this bill into law.

“There is no doubt that there are those who will work to derail this common sense legislation. But I believe this bill is the right thing to do and will gain momentum elsewhere after our action here in Vermont. Farming and agriculture are important aspects of Vermont's history, culture and economy. In this tradition, Vermont has led the local food movement that is better connecting people nationwide with the food they eat. It makes sense that we are again leading the nation in this important step forward.”

Campbell said, “Consumers have the absolute right to know what foreign substances are in their food. This legislation represents a huge victory to achieve this end.”

US Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) issued the following statement: “I am very proud our small state stood up to Monsanto and other multi-national food conglomerates and is taking the lead in a movement to allow the people of our country to know what is in the food that they eat. Working with Vermonters, I will continue my efforts in Washington to pass national legislation on this important issue.”  

The scientific community is not in agreement on whether GMOs are harmful to human health, but Vermont lawmakers say the bill is about consumers’ “right to know” what is in their food.

The Vermont Attorney General expects to defend the law in court, and the legislation sets up a mechanism for the state to accept donations from supporters. About $1.5 million in state settlement money is also available in the event of a lawsuit.

Sixty-four countries around the world already require the labeling of genetically modified foods, including all of the European Union, Russia, Japan, China, Australia and New Zealand. In the United States, labels must list more than 3,000 ingredients but the Food and Drug Administration has resisted labels for genetically altered foods.

Vermont Business Magazine updated this story.