A Vermont law is going into effect on July 1 that requires labels on all genetically modified foods that are produced and sold within the state. As the Wall Street Journal explains today, this isn't going to be just a matter of putting a warning label on package:

The Vermont scheme is more expensive than pasting a sticker on a box of crackers. Ingredients would need to be segregated from the grain elevator to the grocery store. No brand could label only what sells in Vermont, lest an illicit bag of Cheetos cross the New Hampshire border and incur the $1,000 a day fine. Companies may opt for noting that products “may” be produced by genetic engineering, which is acceptable under the law. So much for enlightening the public.

Mankind has been modifying plants from time immemorial.What do you think Gregor Mendel was up to in the nineteenth century with his pea plants?  We didn't always speak of it as genetic modifying because we didn't always talk of plants having genetic material. What sorts of harmful tinkering is done with the DNA of plants? Some plants are made more drought or pest resistant. Somehow, these advances, aimed at plenty for the world, have been trumped up as something sinister.

What will be sinister, especially for struggling families, is the outcome of the Vermont bill: higher grocery bills. Consumers may see their grocery bills go up as much as $500 a year as producers scramble to comply with Vermont's law. One of the big defenders of Vermont's bill is none other than Senator Bernie Sanders, who apparently doesn't care that it will made food more expensive for the 99 percent.

Fore of special interests as he proclaims himself, Sanders is apparently unbothered that special interests groups in the form of the state's powerful milk and cheese producers have received an  exemption. Meanwhile, Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas has come forward with a bill for voluntary GMO labeling. It is unnecessary, according to the Journal, as the USDA already has provisions for voluntary labeling.

Vermont is unlikely to come to its senses on this bill, but the editorial proposes one source of relief:

The Constitution gives Congress the power to oversee interstate commerce, including the right to pre-empt state laws that dictate rules for businesses that operate nationwide. The organic legislators of Vermont will soon mandate deceptive and costly food labels that would harm consumers across the U.S., and it’s up to Congress to correct the overreach.