Read the full article by Tracy Frisch, here.
This was supposed to be the watershed moment for activists around the region who had long campaigned for labeling of genetically modified foods.
On July 1, Vermont became the first state in the nation to require labels on food products with genetically engineered ingredients. The state’s law, which the Legislature passed by an overwhelming margin in 2014, was the result of years of effort by grassroots activists who spoke out forcefully and jammed public hearings to demand the right to know what was in their food.
As Vermont’s law staved off a court challenge and moved toward implementation this summer, activists in New York and Massachusetts gained a new burst of momentum in their effort to pass similar labeling laws in those states.
And as the effective date of Vermont’s law neared, a series of large food companies announced that, rather than create separate labels for one small state, they would simply start nationwide labeling of products with genetically modified ingredients. A few companies also made plans to reformulate their products to omit these ingredients.
But in mid-July, Congress rode to the aid of processed food, pesticide and biotechnology companies, which had bitterly fought Vermont’s labeling law. With no hearings and little debate, first the Senate and then the House passed a much weaker federal law for disclosing genetically modified ingredients in food—and barred states, including Vermont, from setting their own labeling requirements. President Obama signed the federal measure into law on July 29.