Connecticut poised to enact first GMO food labeling law in US

GMO-free cereal
This Sept. 30, 2002 file photo shows labeling advertising no genetically engineered ingredients on a box of Erewhon Crispy Brown Rice Cereal in San Francisco.
AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

The Connecticut Legislature passed a bill Monday that would require labels on food products containing genetically modified ingredients. The bill, which Gov. Dan Malloy supports, contains a provision intended to balance consumers' right to information with business or economic concerns about the state being the first in the nation to pass such legislation.

From Co.Exist:

GMO legislation is turning into a game of Whac-a-Mole: kill one bill and another pops up in its place. The latest news comes from Connecticut, which is set to pass the first GMO labeling bill in the country--with a few big caveats. The bill will require producers to label products sold in the state that contain GMO ingredients, but there is a catch. It only goes into effect if other states come along for the ride.

The press release for the bill explains: "House Bill 6527 - An Act Concerning Genetically-Engineered Food, will require producers to label genetically-engineered food in Connecticut as long as four states from the New England region with an aggregate population of 20 million also adopt a labeling provision. One of the four states must border Connecticut."

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Genetically modified foods are defined as those that contain inserted genes from another species. "The majority of packaged food in U.S. supermarkets is derived from genetically engineered crops like corn or sugar beets," according to a report from the Star Tribune.

Advocates hope that other states will pass similar legislation. More than a dozen states are considering labeling proposals, including Minnesota.

With or without labeling, some scientists argue that genetically engineered foods aren't harmful and benefit the environment.

From the Council for Biotechnology Information:

Data shows that planting GE crops has actually led to a greatly reduced amount of pesticides being used, said Dr. Wayne Parrott, professor of plant breeding and genomics at the University of Georgia, adding that biotech crops have other environmental benefits. "When we monitor other indicators of sustainability, such as water use and greenhouse gas production, GM crops have a lower environmental footprint," he said.


Why GMO supporters should embrace labels
"I support GMOs. And we should label them. We should label them because that is the very best thing we can do for public acceptance of agricultural biotech. And we should label them because there's absolutely nothing to hide." (Discover)

Right to Know Minnesota
"Right to Know Minnesota is a campaign started in 2011 by concerned citizens to make the labeling of genetically modified (GMO) foods the law in Minnesota. We are a coalition of farmers, health advocates, families, and others who support healthy foods."

Legislative update: 25 states working on GMO labeling laws
A rundown of the bills and their status. (Organic Consumers Organization)

Boxer, DeFazio introduce federal GMO labeling bill
"A bill requiring the labeling of GMO ingredients has been introduced at the federal level by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-CA and Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-OR. Even though the bill's chances of passage are uncertain, observers see it as a watershed moment." (Food Navigator)

Should we label genetically modified food?
"What would those labels really tell consumers about the food? What does the science say about the safety of GMOs?" (The Daily Circuit)