GMA continues its fight in the GM labeling arena.

  • The effective date for Vermont’s GM labeling law is July 1, 2016.  Absent a federal legislative solution or a victory in the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) challenge to the Vermont law in federal court, the food industry must decide how to comply with the new GM labeling requirements.
  • To provide an update in this area:
    • Although the House passed a GM labeling bill in July that would preempt Vermont’s law (and similar state laws), the Senate has not yet introduced a companion bill.  The Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing on biotechnology on October 21, at which Sen. Stabenow (D-Michigan) called for a federal legislative solution in the labeling space.  It remains unclear whether such a bill could be passed before the end of the year.
    • On October 8, the Second Circuit heard oral argument in GMA’s First Amendment challenge to the Vermont GM labeling law.  The level of scrutiny to be applied is a pivotal factor in the outcome of this case, and it is not clear that the food industry ultimately will prevail.
  • Food companies continue to face compliance challenges in this area, as many are unsure whether to relabel product on the assumption that the Vermont law will be implemented as planned, or whether to keep holding out hope for a federal fix.  GMA has posted a list of FAQs on its website to clarify its position on GM labeling issues and to summarize the implications of the Vermont law; this resource may serve as a helpful reference to food companies as they attempt to navigate challenges in this area.