Small manufacturers and restaurants also will be exempt.
This is a slap in the face for all of the activists that have worked hard to pass state-level measures because they believe strongly that labels should be transparent, and that they should decide whether or not they are purchasing and consuming foods with genetically engineered ingredients.
Proponents of labeling, and of Vermont's law, were quick to express their disappointment.
The federal law, which the Senate was expected to consider later Wednesday, would supersede the first state law mandating GMO disclosure.
But critics including the New York Times editorial board editorial board and Bernie Sanders say the bill now being considered in the Senate (it passed a cloture vote this week and has been added as an amendment to Senate Bill 764) is too lax. The legislation would establish national guidelines for how companies disclose the presence of ingredients and foods made with biotechnology. The most stark difference between the Vermont law and the Roberts-Stabenow bill is the plain language labeling required in Vermont. Most contentious is that the bill allows producers to use QR codes that direct consumers to a website with the GMO label, rather than, y'know, an actual GMO label.
The food industry protests that having to apply different labels for food sold in different states would be incredibly expensive and highly inefficient.
Defeated by voters in four Western states and by state legislators in a couple dozen other states, it was passage of a GMO labeling law in tiny Vermont that finally forced Washington, D.C., to act. The Senate needs to pass the bill this week so that it can be voted on by the House before the July recess at the end of next week.
Make no mistake: Vermonts first-in-the-nation GE labeling law is what is under attack here, Leahy said.
Recently, the Senate passed the GMO labeling agreement put forth by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, by a vote of 63 to 30.
While most scientists say that genetically modified foods do not pose a risk to human health, consumers should have a right to more information about what they are eating.
Steven Salzberg, a professor of biomedical engineering, computer science, and biostatistics at Johns Hopkins University, said in an email to BuzzFeed News that GMO technology is safe, and called GMO labelling of any sort "a bad idea".