Connecticut Requires Labeling of GM Products
The state legislature in Connecticut passed a bill last week that it would make it the first state in the county to mandate labeling of products produced with genetically engineered ingredients. Surprisingly, the bill, which had already passed the state Senate, passed the state House by an overwhelming 134 to 3 vote in favor. The bill punts on implementation, only going into effect when four other states “enact a mandatory labeling law for genetically-engineered foods that is consistent with the provisions of this subsection, provided one such state borders Connecticut; [and] the aggregate population of such states located in the northeast region of the United States that have enacted a mandatory labeling law for genetically-engineered foods that is consistent with this subsection exceed twenty million based on 2010 census figures. Still, the bill is being seen as a victory for labeling proponents.
More than 25 other states, including Maine, Minnesota, Vermont, and Washington, are currently considering similar labeling requirements. And Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR) have introduced a bill in Congress that would require such labeling at the federal level.
Passage of the Connecticut bill came just seven months after voters in California rejected Proposition 37, which would have mandated labeling in that state. The No on 37 campaign was received massive financial support from the food industry, including large donations from Monsanto, DuPont, and other agro-chemical companies. But as I speculated at that time, the defeat of Prop 37 was likely to be short-lived, generating additional pressure to expand labeling both through the passage of new legislation and through consumer-based movements to pressure retailers to carry labeled products. It seems we’re moving quickly in that direction.