Legislation demands labels on food goods

Vermonters may be familiar with staring down bumper stickers that read something like, “No Farms, No Food,” or perhaps, “Eat Local.”

Now some citizens of the food-system-pioneering Green Mountain State are standing behind a piece of legislation.

The legislation is telling food producing firms that people have a right to know whether or not genetically modified organisms (GMOs), exist in a product, according to the Vermont legislative website.

Vermont’s bill H.112, titled “An Act Relating to the Labeling of Food Produced with Genetic Engineering,” was introduced early last year.

The bill was passed by the House in May, according to the website.

Lawmakers from the Senate Agriculture and Senate Judiciary committees hosted a public testimony from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Feb. 6, according to the Vermont Right to Know GMOs website.

More than 200 people showed up at the state house to show support for the GMO labeling bill, according to the Barre Montpelier Times Argus.

The Senate Agricultural Committee voted 4-1 in favor of H.112 Feb. 8; next week the Senate Judiciary Committee will consider the bill, according to the Times Argus.

“I think this is a big win for consumers in the state,” senior Gretchen Kelley said. “It allows buyers to make a decision about GMOs on their own.”

A trigger clause has been considered to be inserted into Vermont’s bill.

This would mean the law would only become effective after other states or a specified total population of people among various states have also shown support for GMO labeling, according to WCAX.

One aspect of the bill that seems to keep lawmakers hesitant is the fear of lawsuit from major corporations and groups whose products contain GMOs, according to WCAX.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association argues that legislation for food labeling should be considered by the FDA, according to POLITICO magazine.

“If the law becomes effective and UVM takes a stance on GMO labeling, then Sodexo dining services will follow UVM’s actions whether they are in favor or not in favor of buying food products with GMO labeling,” Caylin McKee, Sustainability and Social Media Coordinator for University Dining Services, said.

“The University also supports the Real Food Challenge (RFC) and GMO food products are not considered ‘real foods’ under the RFC campaign’s guidelines,” McKee said.

RFC is attempting to shift $1 billion of existing university food budgets away from industrial farms and junk food, according to RFC’s website.

Vermont residents can contribute their opinions by writing to or calling their state senator.

A decision for Vermont’s bill H.112 should be expected in the coming weeks.