Vermont to become first state to mandate GMO labeling

BY Talia Mindich  April 24, 2014 at 6:05 PM EST
Photo by Malakwal City, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Vermont is poised to become the first state to require GMO labeling on food. Photo by Malakwal City, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Vermont is set to become the first state to require labels for food made with genetically modified organisms.

The House voted Wednesday to approve the bill, which would mandate food manufacturers to label products with GMOs as “produced with genetic engineering,” starting July 1, 2016. Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin said he looks forward to signing it.

“I am proud of Vermont for being the first state in the nation to ensure that Vermonters will know what is in their food,” Shumlin said in a statement Wednesday.

Health and environmental concerns prompted a decade-long effort that many Vermonters hope will sweep across the nation. But the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents farmers, seed companies and other food producers, has rebuked the measure, saying that GMOs reduce the amount of pesticide and water use on farms and help to feed a growing world population.

Bracing for a legal battle, state lawmakers have included a 1.5 million fund for legal defense.

According to the World Health Organization, genetically modified foods are derived from organisms whose genetic material has been modified in a way that does not occur naturally. In America, some 90 percent of corn and soybeans are genetically modified.