Coalition of Food Associations File Lawsuit Against VT Over GMO Labeling Law

By Joe Gullo

Published 06/12 2014 05:09PM

Updated 06/12 2014 09:16PM

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), Snack Food Association, Internatonal Dairy Foods Association, and National Association of Manufacturers filed a lawsuit against Vermont over the GMO labeling law.

A press release says they filed a complaint in federal district court in Burlington, Vt. on Thursday.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association issued this statement:

“Vermont’s mandatory GMO labeling law - Act 120 - is a costly and misguided measure that will set the nation on a path toward a 50-state patchwork of GMO labeling policies that do nothing to advance the health and safety of consumers.  Act 120 exceeds the state’s authority under the United States Constitution and in light of this, GMA has filed a complaint in federal district court in Vermont seeking to enjoin this senseless mandate. 
Act 120 imposes burdensome new speech requirements - and restrictions - that will affect, by Vermont’s count, eight out of every ten foods at the grocery store.  Yet Vermont has effectively conceded this law has no basis in health, safety, or science.  That is why a number of product categories, including milk, meat, restaurant items and alcohol, are exempt from the law.  This means that many foods containing GMO ingredients will not actually disclose that fact.
The First Amendment dictates that when speech is involved, Vermont policymakers cannot merely act as a pass-through for the fads and controversies of the day.  It must point to a truly “governmental” interest, not just a political one.   And the Constitution prohibits Vermont from regulating nationwide distribution and labeling practices that facilitate interstate commerce.  That is the sole province of the federal government.  The U.S. Food & Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency have both the mandate and expertise to incorporate the views of all the stakeholders at each link in the chain from farm to fork.”  
GMA looks forward to presenting its legal arguments to the court.”

The Organic Consumers Association’s National Director, Ronnie Cummins, issued the following statement:

"Today’s move by the Grocery Manufacturers Association to prevent Vermont from requiring food companies to disclose the truth about what they put in the billions of dollars’ worth of food they sell to consumers is a desperate attempt to protect corporate shareholder profits at the expense of consumers’ rights and health. More than 60 other countries have either banned GMOs, or require mandatory labeling of foods that contain them. Consumers in the U.S. have every reasonable right to the same information that consumers in other countries have about foods and ingredients that have not been subjected to independent, pre-market safety testing.

Beyond the truth and transparency in labeling issue, every U.S. citizen should be concerned when a multi-billion dollar corporate lobbying group sues in federal court to overturn a state’s right to govern for the health and safety of its citizens. Every precaution was taken to ensure that Vermont’s H.112 would withstand any and all legal challenges, and legal experts agree that that the bill will hold up in federal court. The GMA is merely attempting to inflict damage on Vermont in retaliation for passing H.112, and to intimidate other states that are considering similar legislation or ballot initiatives."

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin signed the GMO labeling bill into law last month.

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