Vermont Lawsuit a Test Case for GMO-Labeling Laws and the First Amendment
Vermont’s Act 120, scheduled to go into effect on July 1, 2016, is the country’s third mandatory-labeling law for genetically modified organisms (GMOs). State GMO-labeling laws raise substantial questions under First Amendment jurisprudence. Immediately following passage of the Vermont law, various industry groups filed suit in federal district court, claiming that the law violates the First Amendment, the Fifth Amendment, and the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution and also claiming that the law is preempted by federal statute. Plaintiffs allege that the labeling requirements force the manufacturers to make statements they do not want to make, prohibit them from making statements they do want to make, are not rational, discriminate against out-of-state manufacturers, and interfere with the federal food-labeling regulatory regime. s it stands, the U.S. Congress should exercise its own independent judgment about preempting or not preempting state GMO-labeling laws while remaining mindful of the effect of these laws on the national economy.