Sorrell seeks dismissal of GMO lawsuit


Vermont has asked a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit challenging the state's GMO labeling law.

Friday was the deadline for the Attorney General's Office to respond to a federal court lawsuit brought by several food manufacturer trade associations that claims the state's law requiring the labeling of products containing genetically modified organisms is unconstitutional.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association is leading the effort to overturn Act 120, which will go into effect in 2016. The other groups are the Snack Food Association, the International Dairy Foods Association and the National Association of Manufacturers. The groups filed suit in U.S. District Court in Vermont in June.

The trade organizations contend there is no evidence that GMO ingredients are harmful to human health and argue the law violates their freedom of speech, or the freedom not to speak in the case of a mandated label.

Attorney General Bill Sorrell countered all the elements of the lawsuit in asking for dismissal.

Sorrell's filing argues "that both of the Act's essential requirements (labeling GE foods and not describing such foods as 'natural' are appropriate under the First Amendment and serve legitimate state interests."

The motion also argues that Act 120 does not run afoul of the Commerce Clause, as plaintiffs have not alleged a significant burden on interstate commerce, let alone any burden that would outweigh the law's local benefits.

The state has established a defense fund to seek private donations to help fight the lawsuit, which could cost as much as $8 million, Sorrell has said.


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