Burlington, VT— As expected, Vermont’s passage of a law requiring genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food to be labeled has been followed by a lawsuit. The Grocery Manufacturer’s Association (GMA), the Snack Food Association, the International Dairy Foods Association and the National Association of Manufacturers have collectively sued the state in federal court, alleging that the new law is unconstitutional.

“Act 120 exceeds the state’s authority under the United States Constitution and in light of this GMA has filed a complaint in federal district court in Vermont seeking to enjoin this senseless mandate,” read a statement from GMA on the lawsuit. GMA has been front and center in efforts to prevent such legislation from passing in other states like California and Washington, where it poured millions of food industry dollars into advertising campaigns against GMO-labeling ballot measures.

It will be argued in court that the constitution prohibits Vermont from interfering with interstate commerce, and that requiring food companies to re-label products represents such an interference. GMA also argues that if allowed to stand, Vermont’s law could be the beginning of a “50-state patchwork” of GMO-labeling policies.

Lawmakers in Vermont anticipated this response while debating the bill. As part of the final law, state money was budgeted to help wage any potential legal battle that might arise, though private donations will be used to pay legal fees before state funds are used.

The law’s GMO-labeling requirement is set to take effect July 1, 2016.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, August 2014 (online 6/25/14)