Vermont Seeks Companies’ GMO Research Amid Labeling Lawsuit

Vermont wants to see the agrichemical industry's research on genetically modified crops as it defends its forthcoming food labeling law.

Mnet 150239 Gmo Labeling Vermont Parr Listing
Mnet 150240 Gmo Labeling Vermont Parr Listing 0

Vermont wants to see the agrichemical industry's research on genetically modified crops as it defends its forthcoming food labeling law.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Attorney General William Sorrell filed motions in several federal court districts seeking internal studies on the crops' "potential health or environmental impacts" produced by DuPont, Monsanto, Syngenta and others.

Attorneys for the state hope to use the research while defending its 2014 law requiring that companies label foods that include genetically modified ingredients. The Grocery Manufacturers Association -- which represents numerous food and beverage industry giants -- sued to stop the requirement, which is set to take effect on July 1.

Vermont Assistant AG Kyle Landis-Marinello said that companies, particularly in lawsuits involving trade groups, often possess crucial documentation.

“We think these are really the bare minimum documents that they should be giving us,” Landis-Marinello told the Journal.

Food companies and health authorities generally deemed GMOs to be safe, but critics warn of unintended health and environmental consequences and argue that companies should inform consumers about their ingredients.

Environmental groups, in particular, expressed concerns about the increasing use of pesticides on crops that are specifically engineered to resist them.

The Associated Press reports that DuPont is fighting the request from Vermont officials and asked the court in Delaware to move the issue to federal court in Vermont -- home to the GMA lawsuit.

Monsanto officials told the Journal that the company also plans to "oppose the motion as untimely and unwarranted."

The Journal reports that Vermont is also seeking consumer research on GMO labels from food giants ConAgra, Kellogg and Frito-Lay.

A proposal in Congress would pre-empt state-level labeling laws in favor of a voluntary label for GMO-free foods, but the legislation stalled in the Senate after passing the House last year.

Some food companies -- notably Campbell Soup -- plan to label modified foods nationwide rather than tailor their products for the relatively tiny Vermont market.

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