MONTPELIER, Vt. – Vermont is expected to become the first state in the nation to require labeling of foods that contain genetically modified organisms . According to The Washington Post, on Wednesday the state House passed a bill, 114-30, that would require the labeling by July 1, 2016. The next step is Gov. Peter Shumlin, who has said he will sign the legislation.
“Our constituents have spoken,” said Rep. Carolyn Partridge, a Democrat from Windham, Vt., and House Agriculture Committee chairwoman. “They feel it’s important to know what’s in their food.” said House Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Partridge, D-Windham.
Genetically modified organisms are plants and animals whose cells have been inserted with a gene from an unrelated species to give them specific characteristics, such as resistance to insects or increase specific nutrients. Genetically engineered plants have been in the food supply since the 1990s, and supporters of the labeling requirement have been fighting since for regulations to notify consumers of their presence.
Food manufacturers say 70% to 80% of packaged food on a typical supermarket’s shelves would need to be labeled. The bill grants the Vermont Attorney General’s Office the job of establishing rules surrounding the labels. Supporters have said they hope Vermont will lead the way for similar laws across the USA.
“I am proud of Vermont for being the first state in the nation to ensure that Vermonters will know what is in their food.” Gov. Peter Shumlin, Vermont
” Vermont’s always first,” said Will Allen, an organic farmer from Fairlee, Vt. GMO labeling is required in 64 countries, including the European Union, but no U.S. states. Connecticut and Maine have passed labeling laws that would go into effect only when a collection of neighboring states passes similar laws. Vermont lawmakers rejected that route.
Legislation in Vermont seeking to halt the use of genetically modified seeds, to establish a labeling requirement for those seeds and the food they produce and to protect farmers from liability related to GMO seeds dates back more than a decade.