Consumer Groups File Motion to Intervene in Vermont GE Labeling Litigation

July 25, 2014

By Ricardo Carvajal & JP Ellison

The Vermont Public Interest Research Group ("VPIRG") and Center for Food Safety ("CFS") filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit challenging Vermont’s new law requiring labeling for foods produced with genetic engineering (see our prior posting here).  VPIRG and CFS (collectively Applicants) contend that the lawsuit “threatens to upend” the new law, thereby “negating Applicants’ extensive efforts and severely injuring their core organizational missions as well as the personal interests of thousands of their members.” 

The memorandum in support of the motion details VPIRG’s grassroots campaign and other efforts mounted in support of the bill – including the provision of supporting materials and testimony regarding the law’s constitutionality.  It also references CFS’s “work with dozens of states on GE labeling legislation.”  Applicants thereby claim a “clear interest in the continuing constitutional viability” of the law.  Applicants also claim their members have “strong interests” that support intervention, including their “need to know whether foods they eat and feed their families are genetically engineered for health, environmental, economic, and other reasons.”

Applicants further argue that Vermont’s representation of their interests might not be adequate because of the state’s “serious financial concerns regarding the cost of [the] litigation” – reportedly estimated to cost between $1 million and $5 million.  As noted in the memorandum, the law created a fund to collect donations in part to pay for the law’s defense.  The balance of that fund has risen from $15,000 on June 9 (according to Applicants) to over $100,000 on July 11 (according to the fund’s Facebook page).