Vermont is the first US state to mandate labels on foods produced using genetic engineering.
Under a law signed by Vermont governor Peter Shumlin on 8 May, labels must be in place on food sold in Vermont by July 2016.
“We have a right to know what’s in the food we buy,” said Shumlin during the signing, as attendees noshed on free Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. “I am proud that we’re leading the way in the United States to require labeling of genetically engineered food.”
A host of other states are contemplating similar legislation. But even as consumer activists celebrated Vermont’s label law, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, a food-industry group based in Washington DC, pledged to file a lawsuit in federal court with the intention of overturning the law. And last month, Congressman Mike Pompeo (Republican, Kansas) introduced the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014 in the US House of Representatives, a bill that allows requirements for labelling of genetically engineered food only when that food differs substantially in make-up from non-engineered counterparts. “The use of bioengineering does not, in itself, constitute a material difference,” the bill states.