MONTPELIER, Vt. — Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders joined other Vermont leaders Friday to celebrate the state’s new law requiring labels on genetically modified food and to blast federal legislation that could pre-empt the state requirement.

Vermont became the first state Friday to require the labeling of food containing GMOs, or genetically modified organisms.

“Vermont had the courage to say … ‘If it’s the right thing to do, what are we waiting for,”‘ Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin told a rally audience.

Sanders sharply criticized the compromise bill in Congress that called for less stringent regulations. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill next week.

The federal legislation would allow an electronic code on a package to stand in for a label, requiring a smartphone and internet connection for a consumer to know whether the product contained genetically modified ingredients, Sanders said.

Many products, including corn products, beet sugar and soy oils that are in many processed foods, could be exempt from the requirement, he said.

“Perhaps most shockingly and what exposes the partial nature of this legislation, this bill imposes no penalties whatsoever for violating the labeling requirement, making the legislation essentially meaningless,” he said.

Vermont’s law imposes a penalty of $1,000 per day per genetically modified product that is not labeled as required.

Eric Blom, spokesman for Maine-based Hannaford Supermarkets, said the chain has new labels for any store-brand products that contain genetically modified ingredients and those labels will be going to Vermont and throughout Hannaford’s distribution system.