On the last day of the legislative session, the legislature voted to push back the date when the GMO law will be enforced. The Vermont Attorney General’s Office said that until the beginning of 2017, manufacturers will not be liable for failing to label products on store shelves if those products were distributed before the law takes effect on July 2016. Store owners were concerned that they could face legal action for products without GMO labels that were distributed before the law took effect. So this change gives more time for manufacturers to comply with the change and relieves store owners of the threat of lawsuit.
In addition to the concern over timing in labeling of food products, there is a lot of misunderstanding about the GMO law.
To clarify exactly what the law does:
The GMO labeling law passed by the Vermont legislature applies only to food for humans. It does not apply to grain or any feed for animals, or fertilizer or seed for planting. The law is intended to help consumers know what is in the food they are purchasing. The law does not make a statement on whether GMO products are good or bad. The law creates more consumer information. Just like a label that indicates a product contains salt, a label that indicates a product contains Genetically Modified Organisms does not imply it is good or bad. It indicates only that the GMO is present.
Food for human consumption consisting entirely of or derived entirely from an animal which has not itself been produced with genetic engineering, does not need to be labeled–even if the animal was fed genetically engineered feed.
The GMO labels only have to go on food products made for people to eat. They do not need to go on food for animals. Grain meant for animal feed made with GMO corn does not have to be labeled because the grain is animal food not food for humans. Any product like milk, eggs or meat coming directly from an animal does not have to be labeled as containing GMO even if the animal was fed feed containing GMOs.
Labels are required only on food intended for human consumption. The labels are not required on food for animals. Manufacturers are responsible for properly labeling these products, but store owners also have a responsibility to make sure the labels are on the products. It is the manufacturers who will tell store owners if the food had Genetically Engineered Components.
I want to hear from you. Let me know what you are thinking about this issue. Contact Me!
Rep. Carolyn Branagan
Vermont House of Representatives