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Fearful Politicians Say Genetically Modified Labels Bill Could Land Vermont in Court

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page, Millions Against Monsanto page, and our Vermont News page.
MONTPELIER - Vermont has passed progressive laws on the regulation of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant, campaign contributions, and "data mining" by pharmaceutical companies that in recent years have been struck down by federal judges and the U.S. Supreme Court.

That spotty track record defending state laws in court is hindering an effort in the Legislature this year to pass a law requiring food products containing genetically modified organisms to be labeled as such. The GMO labeling law would again put Vermont at the legal forefront and could land the state in court.

"It's just not a great environment to move forward with a bill that's likely to get the state sued," said Rep. Will Stevens, an Independent from Shoreham who sits on the House Agriculture Committee. "I think the public has a low appetite for it."

Neither the federal government nor other states require the labeling. But efforts are under way in about 20 other states to pass GMO labeling mandates, as advocates argue genetically modified organisms carry health risks and consumers have a right to know whether the ingredients in their food have been genetically altered.

If legislators in Montpelier approve the bill, Vermont could be the first state in the nation to adopt the labeling law, giving the biotechnology industry in incentive to try to mount a legal challenge here.

Rep. Carolyn Partridge, who chairs the House Agriculture Committee, said she "would tend to doubt" the GMO bill will pass this year, but said it's not out of the question. 


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