Despite opposition by food industry groups, a federal judge has allowed a Vermont law that could make the state the first in the country to require labeling of genetically modified food, reports the Burlington Free Press Tuesday. The Grocery Manufacturers’ Association and other industry groups requested a preliminary order to block the law from going into effect as scheduled on July 1, 2016. However, U.S. District Court Judge Christina Reiss in Burlington on Monday ruled temporarily against them. The judge actually partially granted and partially denied the state’s motion to dismiss the industry lawsuit, meaning the case is likely to go to trial. Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell, whose office finalized rules to implement the law on April 17, said in an interview, “There’s a lot of good news in this decision for us and for the heart and soul of the labeling law.”
The judge found that the concerns embedded in Vermont’s law were well within the state’s purview. “The safety of food products, the protection of the environment, and the accommodation of religious beliefs and practices are all quintessential governmental interests, as is the State’s desire ‘to promote informed consumer decision-making,'” she wrote, quoting from the state’s court filings.
Food industry lawyers are whining that there’s not enough time to implement Vermont’s new labeling rules for genetically modified products before the July 2016 effective date, reports Fox Business on Monday. “Plaintiffs have barely more than a year to overhaul their Vermont supply chains,” wrote the groups’ lawyers, Catherine Stetson and Matthew Byrne. “Thus the irreparable harm that will befall Plaintiffs’ member companies absent a preliminary injunction … grows increasingly imminent by the day.”
US News stated Monday that throughout the legislative and legal debate on GMO labeling, industry groups have argued that the First Amendment gives them broad discretion about what to include on their labels and that there’s no compelling state interest to offset that. However, the court dismissed the industry groups’ request that it apply a legal standard of strict scrutiny to the free-speech issues in the case. This would make it easier at trial for the state to rebut the companies’ First Amendment claims. It also dismissed the plaintiffs’ request that the law be found to violate the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Vani Hari aka Food Babe has been an active proponent of the GMO labeling movement. Her goal is to educate Americans about what is in their food supply. She is passionate about showing how food affects our health, and believes in transparency when it comes to knowing what our food contains. Ms. Hari has had the attention of Whole Foods, Starbucks, Lean Cuisine, McDonalds, General Mills, Coca-Cola, Chipotle, Yoforia, and Moe’s South West Grill.
The American people more and more are looking for healthy non-GMO food. Contrary to what the food industry would have us believe, GMO foods are very hazardous to American’s health. If GMOs are “essentially” the same as other food, like the FDA and Monsanto would have you believe, why do some many other countries ban them? Vermont’s ruling is a win for the people.