'Uncle Sam' not ready for Vermont's GMO labeling law

'Uncle Sam' not ready for Vermont's GMO labeling law

With Vermont's GMO labeling law set to kick in July 1, produce association scrambles to help marketers and retailers understand and comply.

United Fresh Produce Association has published a white paper and legal backgrounder to assist member companies in understanding and complying with a labeling law for genetically engineered foods due to go in effect in Vermont on July 1, 2016. United Fresh has also made it available for on-farm and farmers market retailers and wholesalers. See PDF link at end of article.

Related: House approves voluntary GMO labeling bill

NONE GMO/GE HYPE? Retailers may push produce wholesalers to certify products aren’t GMO/GE as a sales gimic – adding to cost, but with no consumer value.

“We’ve heard much confusion about Vermont’s law, which will be the first state to require labeling of genetically engineered foods,” says United Fresh President & CEO Tom Stenzel. “While we continue to urge Congress to find a national solution rather than face a patchwork of different state requirements, we felt it important now to advise members about Vermont’s law specifically as it is due to take effect soon.”

Related: What makes people queasy about GMO foods?

The white paper’s black and white

Retailers are advised about the small number of commodities that might possibly be genetically engineered and fall under the labeling law. As the white paper points out, the only genetically engineered fruits and vegetables approved for sale in the United States are a few varieties of sweet corn, squash, papayas, potatoes and apples. The recently approved Arctic Apple variety isn’t yet in the retail market, so no apples for sale in the United States are currently genetically engineered.

“We’ve heard some cases of companies asking all of their produce suppliers for certification that products are not genetically engineered,” says Stenzel. “That’s unnecessary and adds needless cost to the supply chain. Hopefully this white paper will be helpful in directing the industry’s attention only to those commodities that could possibly be covered by the law.”

Related: Voluntary labeling bill stalls; companies start to add labels

The white paper also reinforces United Fresh’s support for the use of modern technology in plant breeding. That will be critical to tackling challenges of pest, diseases and drought, as well as enhancing nutrition and other consumer attributes.

“It’s important that produce companies and retailers have a dialogue with consumers about the valuable role technology can play in plant breeding. With greater understanding and a transparent dialogue with consumers, we believe much of the fear in the marketplace today will gradually fade away,” concludes Stenzel.

Related: Confusion continues on GMO labeling

For more United Fresh details, click on the link below.

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