Ben & Jerry's Picks Sides in ‘food Fight' Over New Vt. Law

(NECN: Jack Thurston, Burlington, Vt.) - The Vermont-based ice cream brand Ben & Jerry's announced Monday a new way of supporting its home state in a "food fight" that will play out in the federal courts.

The treat maker will donate one dollar to for each serving of the flavor Chocolate Fudge Brownie dished out in the month of July at the company's scoop shops in Burlington and Waterbury, Vermont. During the campaign, Chocolate Fudge Brownie has been renamed Food Fight Fudge Brownie, company co-founder Jerry Greenfield told attendees at a rally on Burlington's Church Street Marketplace.

Vermont's Food Fight Fund is a legal defense fund set up to respond to challenges to Vermont's new labeling law pertaining to genetically-modified organisms, or GMOs. Starting in the summer of 2016, the state will require food producers to label foods if they contain ingredients whose DNA was scientifically altered to increase yield or efficiency of production. A large majority of the packaged foods sold in mainstream grocery stores contain GMOs.

Last week, a coalition of four food industry groups sued Vermont in federal court. The plaintiffs, including the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Snack Food Association, argue Vermont's new law does nothing to improve the safety or health of consumers, and will just start down the path toward creating a confusing mess of different policies in each of the 50 states.

Ben & Jerry's disagrees with the plaintiff's claims. "Ninety-three percent of Americans support mandatory GMO labeling," Chris Miller, Ben & Jerry's activism manager, told New England Cable News. "This is something that's non-partisan, non-political; people want to know what's in the food they eat."

Vermont's Food Fight Fund is appealing to donors from all over the country, and even internationally, said Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vt. The state, which had been anticipating this lawsuit, expects the court case to be closely watched as other states and federal lawmakers debate GMO labeling requirements.

Losses in court cases could cost Vermont several million dollars, Attorney General Bill Sorrell, D-Vt., has predicted. Sorrell has also expressed confidence in Vermont's law, and has said the threat of lawsuits should be no deterrent to enacting laws that give Vermonters information they crave.

Click here to visit the website of Vermont's Food Fight Fund:

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