AUGUSTA — The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) https://www.organicconsumers.org/ issued this statement today in response to yesterday’s ruling by a federal judge in Vermont clearing the way for the state’s GMO labeling law to take effect in July 2016:
“This landmark ruling not only paves the way for Vermont’s GMO labeling law to take effect on schedule, July 1, 2016, but more importantly it signals that the courts agree that states have a constitutional right to pass GMO labeling laws,” said Ronnie Cummins, international director of the Organic Consumers Association.
“This ruling also bodes well for GMO labeling bills that are moving through other state legislatures, including Maine, where a public hearing on Maine’s LD 991 is scheduled for April 30,” Cummins said.
LD 991 would remove the stipulation from the Maine’s existing GMO labeling law, passed in 2013, that requires four additional contiguous states to also pass similar laws, before Maine’s law can be enacted. Some Maine lawmakers have suggested that it’s too soon to remove that stipulation, and that the legislature should instead wait until a ruling on the constitutionality of Vermont’s law.
Yesterday, Judge Christina Reiss of the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont, issued an 84-page ruling that denied the effort by the food industry, represented by the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the International Dairy Foods Association, to block implementation of Vermont’s H.112.
According to news reports, a lawyer with the Vermont state attorney general’s office, said key aspects of Reiss’s ruling appear favorable to the state, in particular the argument that the lowest level of scrutiny applies to the law, requiring the state to only show that the genetic engineering label is “reasonably related” to the state’s interests.
“While Vermont’s legal battle is not yet over, this ruling represents a tremendous victory for not only the citizens of Vermont, but the entire GMO labeling movement,” Cummins said.
The OCA was a key player in GMO labeling initiatives in California (2012), Washington State (2013) and Oregon (2014), in addition to providing financial and staff resources for several years up until the passage of Vermont’s H.112. Currently, the OCA is supporting LD 991 in Maine, as well as efforts to pass GMO labeling laws in other New England states, including Massachusetts.
The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is an online and grassroots non-profit 501(c)3 public interest organization campaigning for health, justice, and sustainability. The Organic Consumers Fund is a 501(c)4 allied organization of the Organic Consumers Association, focused on grassroots lobbying and legislative action.