Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin signed Thursday the nation's first GMO labeling law.
"Vermonters have spoken loud and clear: they want to know what's in their food," Shumlin said, flanked by lawmakers and public health advocates at a festive bill signing on the Statehouse steps.
"We are pro-choice. We are pro-information. Vermont gets it right with this bill," he said.
The law requires food manufacturers selling in Vermont to label products containing genetically modified ingredients starting July 1, 2016.
Most commodity crops sold in the U.S. are genetically engineered to ward off pests and withstand heavy applications of weed-killing herbicides. The majority of processed foods sold in supermarkets contain genetically modified ingredients.
There is no scientific consensus whether genetically modified foods are safe for consumption. But the pro-labeling chorus in Vermont is about consumers' "right to know" what is in their food.
A VTDigger/Castleton Polling Institute poll shows that 79 percent of Vermonters support GMO labeling.
The Vermont Attorney General anticipates defending the state's law in court from the biotechnology industry. This could cost the state $1.5 million to win and than $5 million to lose.