A Celebration of Food
The Vermont legislature has passed a law that will require the labeling of genetically modified foods or GMOs. Governor Peter Shumlin is expected to sign the bill into law, which will make Vermont the first state to require this labeling. More than 60 countries worldwide require the labeling of GMOs. The food industry, particularly Monsanto, has fought hard against this bill, but the people of Vermont have prevailed.
Why Should We Care?
Most of us eat GMO foods everyday without realizing it. Technically, a GMO is a food that has had its genetic code scientifically changed; but as of right now, we are not completely sure whether or not these foods are as safe as non-GMO foods. Many proponents of Vermont's law believe that consumers should be able to know what they are consuming. Right now you could hold up two apples, one GMO and one non-GMO and not be able to tell the difference. Vermont's law aims to empower consumers by requiring labels placed on GMO foods. Simple!
Will the Law Prevail?
Vermont is so certain that they will be sued for passing this law that they have already allocated over a million dollars to defend it in court. Many other states have considered passing such a law, but the threat of a lawsuit has kept many states at bay.
It is likely that the GMO labeling law will be challenged on the grounds of the First Amendment. The food industry will likely make an argument for commercial free speech. At the Supreme Court level, there is mixed precedent involving commercial speech, so nobody is quite sure exactly where the law will go. But, assuming that the law stands, it will certainly be a victory for consumers who know will know what they are eating, at least in Vermont.