Vermont AG Seeks GMO Documents from Companies

Jacob Bunge reported last week at The Wall Street Journal Online that, “Vermont’s attorney general has asked a federal court to force big seed and food companies to turn over internal research on genetically modified crops, escalating a legal battle as the state defends its law requiring labels for GMO ingredients.

“State Attorney General William Sorrell filed motions this week in several U.S. district courts seeking to compel Monsanto Co., DuPont Co., Syngenta AG and other seed firms to produce studies or research related to ‘potential health or environmental impacts’ of the crops, as well as pesticides used on them.”

Mr. Bunge explained that, “The motions were filed in response to a nearly two-year-old lawsuit by the Grocery Manufacturers Association seeking to overturn Vermont’s law.

“A Monsanto spokeswoman said the Missouri seed giant ‘will oppose the motion as untimely and unwarranted,’ and that the safety of GMO crops is ‘well established.’

“‘We have already pointed Vermont to a variety of public government submissions and studies on the safety of GMO crops,’ she said.”

The Journal article noted that, “A spokesman for the Grocery Manufacturers Association said the trade group’s challenge to Vermont’s law ‘is still pending as we await a ruling by the court of appeals on our motion for a preliminary injunction.’

“Vermont passed a law in 2014 requiring labels for some food products that are made from biotech crops…[T]he Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents food and beverage companies, sued in June 2014, arguing the law would open the door to a ‘patchwork’ of varying state laws on GMO ingredients that would inflate the cost of food. Mr. Sorrell argued that the companies’ internal research on GMOs is relevant to the group’s lawsuit, according to court filings.”

In the meantime, more food companies are voluntarily changing their labeling with respect to GMOs, while the U.S. Senate has struggled to pass legislation that would address the labeling issue at the federal level.

Senate Ag Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R. Kans.) discussed this issue recently on the AgriTalk radio program, a transcript of his remarks can be found here.

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