States Take On GMOs in Battle Over Labeling

'This is worse than any slavery that's ever been known, because it is enslaving the future, it is enslaving nature'

The fight to label genetically modified (gmo) foods is now on in Hawaii and Connecticut signaling that, despite big agriculture's defeat of California's Proposition 37 in November, proponents of seed and food sovereignty refuse to back down.

On Thursday, the group GMO Free CT held a press conference at the state's legislative office to launch a new anti-GMO initiative calling on the Connecticut Legislature to support and pass a bill to label genetically engineered food in the state, the New Haven Register reports.

Calling the use of GMOs in food "a very large, uncontrolled experiment with human health," William Duesing, Executive Director of the Connecticut branch of the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA), spoke before the group. "The vast amount of GMO crops are designed as sales tools for specific herbicides. The majority of those sales tools are for Roundup (which) kills most green plants that haven't been engineered to resist it," he said.

Among those present at the event included bill-sponsor Representative Phil Miller (D-Essex), Food and Water Watch Executive Director, Wenonah Hauter, as well as a number of local activists and farm-to-table chefs and proponents.

Backing the effort, the group Food Democracy Now! has put together a letter of petition for Connecticut residents to send to their local representatives and Governor Dan Malloy encouraging them to support the legislation.

Food activists in Hawaii won a partial victory this week when the House Committee on Agriculture passed a measure to require labeling on genetically modified food.

Originally, House Bill 174 required any food product that is produced or sold in Hawaii to have a label saying it contains or was made using genetically engineered materials, but Thursday's committee hearing amended the requirements so it only applies to produce imported from outside Hawaii, Associated Press reports.

Despite this provision, Hawaii is a ripe battleground for new legislation. According to the anti-GMO organization Hawai'i Seed, "Hawai'i is the genetic engineering experimental capital of the world," with thousands of acres of arable farmland being used to test seed crops for agriculture giants, including Monsanto.

Last month, pioneering anti-GMO activist Dr. Vandana Shiva visited the islands. Speaking before hundreds at a rally in Honolulu on the opening day of the 2013 Hawaii State Legislature, she said:

What could be more stupid than putting toxic genes in our food? What could be more obscene then saying, 'After I put in these toxic genes, I am the creator of life on Earth and now I will collect rent from nature, farmers', making us all poorer.

This is a slavery system in new garb. Worse than any slavery that's ever been known, because it is enslaving the future, it is enslaving nature.

At the end of the speech the crowd chanted in response, "`A`ole GMO!," Hawaiian for No GMO!

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