Vermont will be the first US State to Label GMOs
Vermont will soon be the first state in the nation to require labels on genetically modified (GMO) foods. Its GMO-labeling law, the first passed in the nation, goes into effect on July 1. Maine and Connecticut have since passed their own GMO-labeling laws. But they won’t go into effect until neighboring states pass similar legislation.
What exactly does Vermont’s law do? It requires that food manufacturers “label many products containing GMOs that are sold in Vermont,” the Burlington Free Press reported when it passed in 2014. Certain food products are exempt, including meat, dairy and liquor. The label can be worded three ways: “partially produced with genetic engineering,” “may be produced with genetic engineering,” or “produced with genetic engineering.”
The law defines genetic engineering in several ways, stating that is a “process by which a food is produced from an organism or organisms in which the genetic material has been changed” through several applications. You can learn more about these applications in the bill here.
That is all a bit confusing, so let’s look at the most common GMO crops: soy, corn and cotton. They are genetically engineered with what the U.S. Department of Agriculture(USDA) calls “pest management traits.” Such technologies first became commercially available for major crops in 1996. Now, their adoption in the U.S. is widespread. The two most common types of GMO crops are herbicide tolerant (HT) and insecticide resistant (called Bt) varieties. The traits of HT crops allow them to tolerate certain herbicides, including glyphosate, the most widely used herbicide in the world. Bt crops have traits that allow them to tolerate certain insecticides.
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Image credit: Social Justice Sisters