Attorney General Bill Sorrell said Monday that the state has retained a Washington, D.C., legal firm to help defend a lawsuit filed against Vermont's new GMO labeling law.

The law firm of Robbins, Russell, Englert, Orseck, Untereiner & Sauber was awarded a $1.465 million contract "that includes the firm's involvement at all stages of the lower court litigation," Sorrell said in a news release.

Lawrence S. Robbins, a partner in the practice, will be the firm's primary attorney on the case, Sorrell said.

"Larry Robbins, in particular, is an experienced litigator and took on Monsanto in 2010 when he represented the Center for Food Safety and other parties in the Monsanto v. Geertson Seed Farms case in the U.S. Supreme Court," Sorrell said. "I am excited to welcome Larry and his colleagues to the team of attorneys who will defend Vermont's GE food labeling law."

Sorrell said his office will serve as lead counsel in the case and that Assistant Attorney General Megan J. Shafritz will head the AG's team, joined by Jon Alexander, Kyle Landis-Marinello, Naomi Sheffield and others, including Human Resources Commissioner Kate Duffy, who is resigning from that post Aug. 11 to work on the GMO case.

The Vermont Legislature in May passed a law requiring that food containing genetically modified ingredients be labeled beginning July 1, 2016. The Grocery Manufacturers Association, Snack Food Association, International Dairy Foods Association and National Association of Manufacturers immediately challenged the constitutionality of the law.

The state's response to that lawsuit is due Aug. 8.