Vermont Judiciary Committee is about to decide
5 of the last 6 people testifying are against GMO labeling. What do you think will happen?
ALL of the people testifying on the final day are there for the SECOND time. If there’s time to allow people to testify twice, I would have thought there would be time for qualified lawyers, with an eye toward the legality of the bill, to testify.
Seems like the biggest concern from Legislators is whether or not Vermont would get sued. Sen. Dick Sears, D-Bennington County, the committee’s chairman. “Personally, I support the bill. I support the concept,” Sears told New England Cable News. “My concern is the taxpayers of Vermont and the potential $5-10-million lawsuit.” Ironically, qualified lawyers have reviewed the bill and are confident it’s defendable. “We’ve drafted language that is constitutionally defendable,” said Sen. David Zuckerman, P-Chittenden County, one of the bill’s biggest champions in the Senate.
Laura Murphy, associate director of the Environmental Law Clinic at Vermont Law School, has been working with VPIRG on the legal justifications for a GMO labeling law. “I think the bill really does a good job of laying out the reasons that GMO labeling is a good idea,” she said. “There’s a really strong basis for upholding it.”
Assistant Attorney General Bridget Asay told the Senate Agriculture Committee that her office believes the bill is constitutional. “We do view the bill as defensible — there are good arguments to support its constitutionality,” she said. “But defensible is not the same as ultimately prevailing,” she noted.
“I think consumers want to know where their food comes from and what’s in that food,” said Chris Miller, the activism manager for the iconic ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s, which has pledged to have all its pints labeled as GMO-free by mid-2014. “Vermonters want to shop their values. And it’s only through a label that will allow Vermonters to be able to do that.”
“Labeling will give consumers greater ability to make informed food choices,” wrote Falko Schilling, consumer protection advocate with the Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG).
First to testify on Wednesday, the Vermont Grocers’ Association has said it doesn’t have a position on whether or not food should be labeled, but went on to insist the issue should be a national one left to regulatory agencies. “Patchwork is not the right way to go,” said executive director Jim Harrison. “Uniform national labeling is the much more preferable way to go.”