A growing movement calling for the labeling of GMOs on grocery store shelves took one step forward this week when Governor Dannel Malloy of Connecticut signed a bill mandating just that.
There was, however, one major caveat.
In order for the law to be enacted, at least four other Northeastern states, together totaling a population of over 20 million people, must enact similar GMO laws. This clause, according to the Danbury Daily Voice, was included to help local farmers "by ensuring regional adoption of the new labeling system before requiring local farms to analyze and label genetically engineered products."
Those states could include Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania or New Jersey.
However, on the other side of New England, Maine has already passed its own GMO labeling law, but this law also includes the same regional clause—meaning two New England states now require the labeling of GMOs, but only if the other nearby states join along.
However, while the rubik's cube of New England GMO labeling laws may seem difficult to line up, Malloy still remained confident that the move is a step in the right direction.
"This is a beginning, and I want to be clear what it is a beginning of," Malloy said at the public signing outside an organic restaurant in the city of Fairfield. "It is a national movement that will requiring (food) labeling."
“We are hopeful that legislators throughout the Northeast will follow the lead of Governor Malloy and all our legislative champions by passing laws that give consumers transparency in labeling," said Tara Cook-Littman, director of GMO Free CT and one of the advocates for the law.
Similarly, when Connecticut's law passed the state legislature this summer before heading to Malloy's desk this month, Mark Kastel, co-director of the Cornucopia Institute, said that such the law's caveat may not hurt the label-GMO fight in the long run.
“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.
While other attempts at singular state initiatives to require labeling in states such as California and Washington have recently failed, in 2013 nearly half of all U.S. states have introduced bills that either require labeling or prohibit genetically engineered foods, according to the Center for Food Safety.