WASHINGTON – The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), along with the Snack Food Association, the International Dairy Foods Association and the National Association of Manufacturers, filed a lawsuit in US District Court in Burlington, Vt., over the state's law requiring labeling of food made with genetically modified organisms.

The Washington-based GMA has argued that Vermont has no compelling interest in labeling foods that contain GM ingredients because consumers who prefer to avoid foods with GM ingredients can choose from a variety of products labeled certified organic. Also, the Food and Drug Administration has ruled that bioengineered foods are not materially different than conventionally produced foods.

Under the Vermont law to take effect on July 1, 2016, if food for humans is offered for sale at retail in the state and is produced entirely or partially with genetic engineering, the food must be labeled to indicate that fact. Violators would face penalties and further action by the state’s Attorney General’s Office.

William Sorrell, Vermont's attorney general, said his office will mount a "vigorous and zealous" defense of the law. The bill creating the law contains a provision for a special fund that would cover costs and fees associated with court challenges.