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Victory: Connecticut Becomes First State to Require GMO Labeling

Food safety advocates hope Connecticut's move sparks nationwide momentum for labeling of genetically modified foods

Andrea Germanos, staff writer

(Photo: MillionsAgainstMonsanto/cc/flickr)

In a landmark act, Connecticut has become the first state to require the labeling of genetically modified (gmo) foods.

The gmo labeling bill overwhelmingly passed in the House in a 134 - 3 vote on Monday.

As the Hartford Courant reports, the bill entails a sort of trigger in order for it to take effect:

For the legislation to take effect four states — including those bordering Connecticut — must pass a similar bill. In addition, any combination of northeastern states (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania or New Jersey), with an aggregate population of at least 20 million people, must approve labeling legislation.

Immediately after the vote, cheers could be heard outside the Hall of the House from advocates who had been pushing the labeling requirement.

The Center for Food Safety (CFS) said the trigger "unnecessarily puts on hold what consumers and lawmakers have already validated as important legislation," but still welcomed the passage of the legislation as a victory in the food movement, and hoped Connecticut's action would prove a catalyst for other states to enact similar measures.

Mark Kastel, co-director of the Cornucopia Institute, told the New York Times that the trigger may not be entirely negative.

“The hurdles in the Connecticut bill, if surmounted, would mean a critical mass in the marketplace that would emulate the impacts that would have materialized if California had passed its ballot initiative,” said Kastel.

Dave Murphy, founder and executive director of Food Democracy Now!, cheered the bill's passage as a victory of people power over corporate agriculture, saying, "The grassroots have won in Connecticut for a key victory over Monsanto and the biotech lobby.”

"It was inspiring to watch Connecticut legislators supporting GMO labeling stand strong in the face of the biotech industry's effort to kill the bill," said Murpy.

“Numerous other states in the Northeast and around the country are actively considering pending GE food labeling bills. Connecticut’s leadership provides momentum and an incentive for these other states to move forward,” Rebecca Spector, who works on state GMO labeling legislative efforts at CFS, said in a statement. “Other states should now pass GE labeling laws, providing millions of U.S. consumers with the basic right to know how their food is produced.”

The legislation now heads to Gov. Malloy, who is expected to sign it.


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