Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic
Requiring Labels for Genetically Engineered Foods
The Clinic is representing the Vermont Public Interest Research Group in legal advocacy toward the passage and defense of labeling requirements for genetically engineered foods in Vermont. Though "GE" foods have been on the market and have been consumed by the public for years, the United States Food and Drug Administration does not require safety testing for these foods. Instead, there are documented health risks and uncertainties stemming from the consumption of GE foods. There are also environmental and health concerns associated with increased herbicide and pesticide use on GE crops; threats of contamination to non-GE and organic agriculture; and social justice issues for farmers and communities influenced by GE practices. For these and other reasons, the public—in both the United States and Vermont—overwhelmingly supports labeling for GE foods.
In Vermont, we are working closely with VPIRG and other state partners including Rural Vermont, the Northeast Organic Farming Association, and Cedar Circle Farm to advance a defensible labeling law. We have completed comprehensive research on the constitutionality of state labeling legislation, met with and provided materials to numerous state officials, and testified before the Vermont legislature. This year's labeling bill, H.112, was passed by the Vermont House of Representatives on May 10, 2013, with a vote of 99-42. The Vermont Senate will take up the bill when the legislature reconvenes in January.
We are also strategizing with national groups such as the Center for Food Safety, and helping to provide legal support for labeling efforts in other states.
We look forward to continuing our "GMO" work over the next few years.
GE Labeling -Constitutional Law Memo (Dec 2012)