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Lawmakers ask: Would Vt. be sued over GMO labels? - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Lawmakers ask: Would Vt. be sued over GMO labels?

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MONTPELIER, Vt. -

Despite statewide support and approval by the House, Vermont's GMO labeling bill still faces some major hurdles over legal concerns.

The Judiciary Committee took testimony Wednesday on the potential exposure Vermont faces from lawsuits by companies like Monsanto or food companies.

Connecticut is the only state to pass a similar bill, but it contains a trigger requiring a large adjoining state like New York to pass a GMO bill before it goes into effect.

Judiciary Chair Dick Sears, D-Bennington, says that while he supports the intent of the bill, he can't go forward until the state or a private interest ponies up the $5-$10 million in legal fees that might be needed to defend it in court.

"Do Vermont taxpayers want us to fund up to $5 million in general fund taxes to support it? Should we cut something? How do we pay for what will likely be a long and protracted lawsuit and we would be the state going at it alone," said Sears. 

"We think since the state of Vermont has adopted the concerns of their citizens having to do with health, safety and the environment, what makes the most sense is to say let's just go forward and put this law into effect since we have done the work to vet it and make sure it's constitutional," said Falko Schilling from the Vermont Public Interest Research Group.

In the past few years, the State has lost three high profile cases in federal court, most recently over Vermont Yankee. The Attorney General's office has said they are opposed to the idea of setting up a private defense fund to pay for potential litigation.

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