Vermont lawmakers on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed a bill that would make the state the first to require labels on foods containing genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.
The bill still needs the governor's signature, but if enacted, any food with GMO ingredients would need a label noting it was produced or partially produced with "genetic engineering." In addition, the law would prevent GMO foods from using "natural" or "all natural" on their labels.
While the law wouldn't go into effect until July 1, 2016, its passage reflects a growing sentiment that consumers should have the right to know when they're eating genetically modified food.
There have been no longitudinal studies to suggest that GMOs are harmful to human health, but the problem may extend beyond the genes themselves — Monsanto's infamous "Roundup Ready" soy, for example, has been found to contain extremely high levels of pesticides, which can have negative effects on health.
Of course, consumer protection measures are inevitably met with backlash from whatever industry they target. In this case, the food industry is fighting back against Vermont's bill and the possibility that other states might follow suit. According to Reuters:
The developers of genetically modified crops and the $360 billion U.S. packaged food industry are pushing for passage of a bill in Congress that would nullify any state law to require labeling of foods made with such crops.
So, unless there's a consumer rights advocate out there with $360 billion to spare, the battle for Americans' right to have information about their food sources is going to be an uphill one.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com