Vermont bill requiring GMO labeling

Written by: Neal Fortin

Primary Source: Food Law Blog

English: Vermont State House, December 2005.

English: Vermont State House, December 2005. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Vermont General Assembly passed a bill that will require most (but not all) foods produced with genetic engineering to be labeled as such. The law, which would go into effect July 1, 2016, is the first in the nation to require labeling products of genetic engineering. GMO labeling laws passed recently in Connecticut and Maine are contingent on a variety of other factors being in place, including more than four surrounding states enacting similar requirements.

The Vermont bill includes a provision for a special fund for legal defense. Litigation seems likely and may challenge the law on a number of grounds, especially violation the First Amendment guarantees for free speech and as interference with interstate commerce in violation of the Commerce Clause. A weaker challenge may be made based on field pre-emption by federal law. Another weaker challenge could come under the Establishment Clause because the Vermont bill includes a purpose of informing those with religious beliefs against GMOs.

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Neal Fortin
Neal Fortin teaches Food Regulation in the United States, International Food Law, Codex Alimentarius, Food & Drug Law, and Nutrition Law & Policy. Before coming to MSU, he was an attorney concentrating in food and drug law. Previously, Neal Fortin worked for the Michigan Department of Agriculture. He was the primary drafter of the Michigan Food Law of 2000, which streamlined Michigan’s food safety requirements and strengthened the food safety standards for changes in science.
Neal Fortin

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