MONTPELIER, Vermont, April 23, 2004 -- Vermont Public Radio report
transcript as reported on CropChoice news:
Governor Jim Douglas says he'll sign a bill into law
that requires the labeling of genetically modified seeds
in Vermont. The legislation marks the first time that
any state in the country has taken this action.
VPR's Bob Kinzel reports.
The measure is on its way to the governor's desk for
his signature because the Senate late last week gave
its final approval to the bill. It was a rare case when
the Senate made absolutely no changes to legislation
passed earlier by the House; this was done so that it
wouldn't be necessary to set up a conference committee
between the two chambers.
The legislation calls for the labeling of genetically
modified seeds at all retail outlets and it requires
seed manufacturers to keep track of their overall GMO
seed sales in the state.
Douglas says he's hoping to sign several agricultural
bills at the same time - the GMO seed labeling law and
another bill that makes changes to both the state's
right to farm law and Vermont's large farm regulations.
However the second bill is still being reviewed by the
Senate so it appears that Douglas will sign the GMO
bill by itself:
"It requires labeling of seeds in retail establishments.
The information will be available to consumers so that
they can have that information available to them. Disclosure
is the goal of the law and I don't think it's too burdensome
on our farmers, which was my original concern."
Rural Vermont has strongly urged the Legislature to
pass the GMO seed labeling bill. Group spokesperson
Amy Shollenberger says it's a very important first step
in dealing with this issue:
"It recognizes that genetically engineered
seeds are fundamentally different from hybrid and other
kinds of seeds and also it gives the farmers the information
they need to make good decisions on their farm. If they
don't know what they're planting they can't be choosing
what they plant. And so it gives them an opportunity
to make those decisions for themselves."
Shollenberger says Rural Vermont would also like to
see lawmakers pass a GMO seed liability law this session.
The bill would hold manufacturers legally responsible
when GMO seeds drift onto organic farm soil. The measure
is being reviewed by the House but it's not clear if
the bill will emerge in the final weeks of the session.
For Vermont Public Radio, I'm Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.