Update 5/9/14: True to form, Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (which represents Cargill, Pepsi etc) announced they will sue Vermont to prevent this law from being implemented.
Vermont’s governor has signed the nation’s first law to require GMO labels on foods, after the Senate voted 26-2 in favor and the House, 107-37.
Bill H.112 requires all food sold in Vermont stores containing GMOs to be labeled by July 2016. It also makes it illegal for any food with GMOs to be labeled "natural" or "words of similar import that would have a tendency to mislead a consumer."
The law states that "because both the FDA and the U.S. Congress do not require the labeling of food produced with genetic engineering, the State should require food produced with genetic engineering to be labeled as such in order to serve the interests of the State."
"I am proud of Vermont for being the first state in the nation to ensure that Vermonters will know what is in their food," said Governor Peter Shumlin when he signed the law last Wednesday.
Although Connecticut and Maine have also passed GMO-labeling laws, they require four neighboring states to do the same before it goes into effect. The strategy is designed to insulated them from the inevitable lawsuits from Monsanto and their Big Food ally, Grocery Manufacturers Association.
Vermont legislators believe their law is legally defensible but the legislation creates a legal defense fund because they expect to be sued.
While some Senators say they were skeptical about the bill, they voted yes because they were flooded with emails and calls from constituents.
For example, state Senator Bobby Starr says he heard about GMO labeling at every public meeting. "Lo and behold, GMOs would float to the top of the debate within those meetings," he told Burlington Free Press.
"Vermont’s landmark victory will force food companies to either label GMOs in all states, or reformulate their products to be GMO-free to avoid stating "this product was produced using genetic engineering" on their packaging," says Ronnie Cummins, national director of the Organic Consumers Association. "When Oregon passes a citizens’ ballot initiative to label GMOs in November, as we believe it will, the biotech and food industries will have lost, beyond the shadow of a doubt, their battle to keep consumers in the dark."
This year, 37 labeling bills have been introduced in 21 states, and Hawaii voted against allowing GMO crops to be cultivated. It was recently voted down twice in the US Senate.
Read our article, DARK Act Anti-GMO Labeling Bill Introduced in Congress, about national legislation that would make these efforts illegal.
Food Democracy Now! has launched Divest Monsanto Now! after finding that the three largest mutual fund shareholders, Vanguard, Fidelity and State Street, own almost 16% of its stock.
"As the manufacturer of Agent Orange, DDT, PCPs and dioxin, Monsanto’s toxic legacy of harm to the environment and human health is without parallel. Now Monsanto owns patents on life and is genetically engineering the food that we eat. In the past 2 years alone, Monsanto has helped fund massive misinformation campaigns to the tune of $70 million to defeat GMO labeling," their divestment website says. Add your name to the petition: