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No Trigger on GMO Labeling, Panel Decides

A second Senate Committee has passed the GMO labeling bill, and they decided not to wait on other states to require genetically modified foods to be labeled.
MONTPELIER - A second Senate Committee has passed the GMO labeling bill, and they decided not to wait on other states to require genetically modified foods to be labeled.

The Senate Judiciary committee voted 5-0 on the bill. They have been considering a so-called "trigger clause," which would require other states to pass GMO labeling laws before Vermont's goes into effect. Maine and Connecticut have passed their own laws with trigger clauses, but no other state has a law currently in effect.

The first state to have a law will almost certainly be sued by grocery corporations like Monsanto. If Vermont loses the lawsuit, Attorney General Bill Sorrell says it would cost taxpayers millions; though he says he will fight to win.

State Sen. Dick Sears (D-Bennington) chairs Senate Judiciary, and explained why the panel decided to go without a trigger.

"It'd be kind of disingenuous," Sears said. "If you support the bill, we should should move forward. But I did spend time last Friday morning with the Attorney General...it was his recommendation that we wait until July 1 of 2016 to make it effective," he said.

In that private meeting, Sears says the Attorney General said two extra years would help the state mount its defense and prepare for the lawsuit. It could also give other states time to join the fight.

The bill would also include a fund where people or groups could donate money to help pay for the litigation.

The bill was already passed by Senate Agriculture, and will now either head to Senate Appropriations or to the full Senate, a decision that will be made by Senate President Phil Scott.
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