As we’ve discussed, Vermont’s first in the nation GMO labeling law (Act 120) is slated to go into effect on July 1 (a basic rundown of the law’s requirements can be found here.) The rules adopted by the Vermont Attorney General to implement the original law included a provision effectively delaying enforcement for certain packaged, processed foods until January 1, 2017 to allow retailers to clear inventories of foods manufactured and distributed before the law took effect. No similar protection was offered, however, from private civil lawsuits authorized by Act 120.
Responding to concerns from Vermont grocers and retailers about the possibility of consumer lawsuits over foods labeled before Act 120’s effective date, the Vermont legislature included a providing in this year’s budget bill delaying the civil suit provision in the law. Under the new law, consumers will not be able to bring Act 120 lawsuits until July 1, 2017.
This new provision is a welcome development for both food retailers, who may have faced the prospect of costly litigation over products ultimately not subject to Act 120’s requirements, and many of Act 120’s proponents, who believed that a rash of lawsuits against local grocers would erode local support for GMO labeling legislation in general.
Importantly, the revision to Act 120 does not delay the overall effective date of the law. Manufacturers and retailers still must comply with the labeling requirements by July 1.
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