GMA et al file appeal vs Vermont GMO ruling, but they are running out of time, say attorneys

By Elaine Watson contact

- Last updated on GMT

GMA et al file appeal vs Vermont GMO ruling

Related tags: Genetic engineering, Appeal

As widely predicted, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) is appealing a federal court ruling denying its bid to halt implementation of Vermont’s GMO labeling law (Act 120) until a lawsuit over the Act is resolved.  

The GMA and other trade associations filed a lawsuit ​last June claiming Act 120 was unconstitutional and preempted by federal law. It also sought a preliminary injunction to prevent Vermont from implementing Act 120 until the litigation was resolved. 

However, in an order filed on April 27​, judge Christina Reiss dismissed the motion for a preliminary injunction, arguing that the plaintiffs had failed to prove that failing to grant it would case 'irreparable harm'.

A legal brief outlining the grounds for the appeal will be filed with the appellate court in the weeks ahead, said GMA president Pamela G. Bailey.

“The court’s opinion​ in denying our request to block the Vermont law opens the door to states creating mandatory labeling requirements based on pseudo-science and web-fed hysteria​. If this law is allowed to go into effect, it will disrupt food supply chains, confuse consumers and lead to higher food costs.”

However, legal experts we spoke to (click HERE​) predict an appeal may not help manufacturers in the short term.

Richard Samp, Chief Counsel at the Washington Legal Foundation told FoodNavigator-USA: “An appeal would likely take upwards of two years.  Although the appeals court has the power to grant an injunction against enforcement of a statute pending completion of the appeal, that power is rarely exercised. Thus, I expect that the Vermont law will be allowed to take effect in 2016 while the appeal continues.”

Most companies are taking a wait-and-see approach

In the meantime, food manufacturers and retailers are now stuck between a rock and a hard place, because whatever happens regarding the lawsuit, Act 120 will likely come into effect first (July 1, 2016), meaning they will have to make a decision now as to how to label their products in order to comply.

So what will they do? Develop Vermont-specific labels? Stop supplying companies in Vermont? Work doubly hard to go non-GMO where they can? Put GMO labels on all products nationally and be done with it? Or sit back and hope that a federal solution is developed first? (Mike Pompeo’s Safe & Accurate Food Labeling Act​, for example)?

Karen Duester, president of the Food Consulting Company, told FoodNavigator-USA: “For us, it's too early to tell if there will be a common reaction or plan of attack. I think most companies are taking a wait-and-see approach, but maybe things will heat up early next year if there's no legal resolution before then.”

Of the options mentioned above, many firms are definitely hoping a federal solution will be fast-tracked in light of the Vermont situation, while many others are now redoubling efforts to go non-GMO, she said.  

What does the Act 120 mandate?

Under Act 120 - which comes into force on July 1, 2016 - firms must declare in a “clear and conspicuous” manner that foods are: ‘Produced with genetic engineering’ or ‘partially produced with genetic engineering’ or ‘may be produced with genetic engineering’ unless they can prove otherwise.

But they could also declare, for example, that the FDA does not consider food produced with genetic engineering to be materially different from other foods.

EXEMPTIONS​: Meat or milk from animals fed GE feed, alcohol, processing aids/enzymes, medical foods, foods sold in restaurants, or packaged foods where the aggregate weight of the GE material is no more than 0.9% of the total weight of the food.

NATURAL CLAIMS​: Foods containing genetically engineered ingredients cannot be marketed as ‘natural’.

PENALTIES​: Violators will be liable for a civil penalty of up to $1,000 per day, per product.   

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8 comments

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GMO Labeling Law Real Cost

Posted by Walter Jeffries,

What a lie. This cost they grocer's association is complaining about is not from complying with the GMO labeling law but comes from VIOLATING the GMO law. If they choose to violate the law then they may get fined. That's how laws and regulations work. There's been plenty of warning and the companies still have plenty of time to comply. It is time for them to stop complaining and get their act together. They can choose to obey the laws or they can choose to violate the law and thus incur the fines.

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Dr. George Wald. Nobel Laureate Ignored by FDA

Posted by JMac,

"Up to now, living organisms have evolved very slowly, and new forms have had plenty of time to settle in. Now whole proteins will be transposed overnight into wholly new associations, with consequences no one can foretell, either for the host organism, or their neighbors…. ..going ahead in this direction may be not only unwise, but dange- rous. Potentially, it could breed new animal and plant diseases, new sources of cancer, novel epidemics."

Dr. George Wald. Nobel Laureate in Medicine 1967. Higgins Professor of Biology, Harvard University. (From: ‘The Case Against Genetic Engineering’ by George Wald, in The Recombinatnt DNA Debate, Jackson and Stich, eds. P. 127-128. ;Reprinted from The Sciences, Sept./Oct. 1976 issue)

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SAY NO TO GMO

Posted by Sandra,

The USA compares to second an third world countries with GMO crops. We are in the same category as India, China, Africa and Brazil. It will get more difficult to grow organic crops as GMO seed pollen travels contaminating other crops.
FACT By mixing genes from totally unrelated species, genetic engineering unleashes a host of unpredictable side effects. Moreover, irrespective of the type of genes that are inserted, the very process of creating a GM plant can result in massive collateral damage that produces new toxins, allergens, carcinogens, and nutritional deficiencies. FACT Herbicides have increased three fold since the production of this crap. FACT The International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) report, authored by more than 400 scientists and backed by 58 governments, stated that GM crop "yields declined." The report noted, "Assessment of the technology lags behind its development, information is anecdotal and contradictory, and uncertainty about possible benefits and damage is unavoidable." They determined that the current GMOs have nothing to offer the goals of reducing hunger and poverty, improving nutrition, health and rural livelihoods, and facilitating social and environmental sustainability. GMOs divert money and resources .

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