Vermont lawmakers on Wednesday became the first state to pass legislation requiring the labeling of foods that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs).   The House of Representatives voted 114 to 30, following approval by the Vermont Senate last week, which passed the bill by a vote of 28 to 2.  The legislation must now be signed by  Governor Peter Shumlin, who is expected to do so.   If signed, the law would go into effect on July 1, 2016.

“I am proud of Vermont for being the first state in the nation to ensure that Vermonters will know what is in their food.  The legislature has spoken loud and clear through its passage of this bill,” Shumlin said.  “I wholeheartedly agree with them and look forward to signing this bill into law,” he said.

The legislation requires any foods containing GMOs sold at retail outlets to be labeled as having been produced or partially produced with “genetic engineering.”  The bill also makes it illegal to call any food than contains GMOs “natural” or “all natural.”  The legislation does include exemptions, such as animal feed; raw agricultural commodities grown without the knowledge or intentional use of GMOs, and items that contain less than 1 percent GMOs by weight, among others.

 Labeling efforts are underway in some 20 other states, and the biotech and food industries have been pushing for federal legislation that would preempt such action.  It is widely expected that there will be legal action to block the law.  “We are currently in the process of evaluating the legislation to determine the best course of action in response to its passage, the Grocery Manufacturers Assocation said, calling the bill “critically flawed and bad for consumers.”