On July 1, Vermont officially became the first state to implement a mandatory GMO labeling law, and the negative consequences for consumers and small businesses in the state quickly became apparent. The news out of Vermont shows just how critically urgent it is for Congress to act before too much damage is done. The U.S. Senate will take up bipartisan legislation to create a uniform national system of disclosure this week.
POLITICO Morning Ag: “New Hampshire shouldn’t be surprised to see a rush on its Utz and Wise chips and snacks, as well as drinks from Lipton and Schweppes. Stocks of each are among roughly 3,000 products that have been removed from shelves in Vermont grocery stores, because that approach was easier for the manufacturers than dealing with the state’s new GMO labeling law, which took effect July 1, Vermont’s Channel 3 News reported.” (Jenny Hopkinson, “3,000 Products Pulled From Vermont Stores,” POLITICO Morning Ag, 7/5/16)
Barre Montpelier Times Argus: “Rep. Corey Parent, R-St. Albans City, said the new law will affect his dad’s business in a negative way. His dad is a distributor for Little Debbie and distributes products to grocery stores. In an interview on Friday, he said the company is not changing their labels and instead are sending out GMO stickers. The company is requiring Vermont distributors, such as Parent’s father, to label about 7,000 products a week with the stickers. That means Parent’s father will have to hire a part-time employee, which will cost him about $20,000 over the course of a year. ‘That’s purely out-of-pocket for a small-business owner in the state of Vermont,’ Parent said. ‘That’s a significant amount of money. It’s either that or an additional 30 hours of work a week. That is the challenge that small business owners in Vermont are stuck with.’” (Gina Tron, “Vt. Leaders Herald GMO Bill,” Barre Montpelier Times Argus, 7/2/16)
WCAX-TV: “…retailers across Vermont got word manufacturers would stop sending 3,000 products to the state. Many popular brands from every corner of the grocery store will no longer send certain items, ranging from Pepsi Wild Cherry to whole wheat hot dog buns…The average Price Chopper sells 35,000 items. Losing 3,000 is 10 percent of their inventory, leaving some experts to worry whether less competition will breed higher prices. ‘You now have less choice for consumers,’ said Robert Letovsky, a professor of business at St. Michael’s College. ‘Less choice means less competition, inevitably prices are going to rise.’” (Alex Apple, “Vt. Supermarkets Lose 3,000 Products Over GMO Law,” WCAX-TV, 7/1/16)
Even as shoppers were finding fewer choices and small businesses were facing higher costs, Vermont state officials were holding a party Friday to congratulate themselves for passing a state labeling law that threatens to set labeling policy for the nation – unless Congress acts.
The Senate must take a significant step this week towards providing consumers access to more product information than ever before while protecting family farmers and small businesses from the harmful effects of Vermont’s law by passing the bipartisan agreement put forth by Chairman Pat Roberts and Senator Debbie Stabenow. It’s time to resolve this issue before the negative impacts spread.
We are a broad-based coalition representing the entire American agriculture food supply chain – from farm to fork. We are committed to increasing the public’s understanding about the science and safety of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and advocating for science-based policies that keep food affordable for every American.