Friday, September 4, 2015

Ben and Jerry’s Comes to Defense of Vermont GMO Labeling Law

Written by Stephen Kenney

On August 31, 2015, ice cream manufacturer Ben & Jerry’s filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals of the Second Circuit asking the court to reject the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association's (GMA) effort to temporarily block Vermont’s GMO labeling law, which is scheduled to go into effect in July, 2016.  GMA, which represents food and beverage companies including Kellogg, Pepsico, Coca-Cola, and Hillshire Brands, is seeking an injunction to stop the law from going into effect.

The Consumers Union has also joined Ben and Jerry’s in filing the amicus brief, which argues that the Vermont law serves the state’s interests by “advancing public health and food safety, informing consumers about potential environmental effects, avoiding consumer confusion and deception, and protecting religious practices.”  The amicus brief argues that GMO labeling is consistent with international norms and practices and imposes no significant harm on the affected companies.  The amicus brief further argues that GMA failed to meet the standard for irreparable harm.  Additionally, Ben and Jerry’s and the Consumers Union rebut the argument that the law would raise food prices, asserting that the costs would be negligible to change the wording on the package.  A report was done by the Consumers Union that found that the labeling would cost consumers less than a penny a day.

GMA is also supporting a bill in Congress that would prohibit any other state law of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration from mandating GMO labeling.  The bill is called the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act.  The bill passed the House of Representatives in July, but has yet to pass through the Senate.

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