Peter Shumlin

Various US industry groups have filed a lawsuit against Vermont in the US District Court to block a law that penalises mislabelling of genetically modified organism (GMO) products.

The labelling law, which is set to come into force in two years, sets a civil penalty of $1,000 a day per product for false certification of the products. Retailers are also required to post signs on displays of unpackaged genetically engineered foods, although restaurants are excluded.

The suit was filed by the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the Snack Food Association, the Intenational Dairy Foods Association, and the National Association of Manufacturers. They argue that it will be difficult to meet the law’s requirements.

The suit has been expected since 8 May, when Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin signed the food labelling law. It asks to overturn the law, claiming that it exceeds the state’s authority under the US Constitution.

Peter Shumlin said that Vermonters take their food and how it is produced seriously.

"I am proud that we’re leading the way in the US to require labelling of genetically engineered food. More than 60 countries have already restricted or labelled these foods, and now one state, Vermont, will also ensure that we know what’s in the food we buy and serve our families," Shumlin added.

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The laws have also been implemented by Maine and Connecticut, but neighbouring states have to follow suit prior to bringing their requirements into effect.

Image: Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin. Photo: courtesy of Community College of Vermont.