It passed through the legislature by a 134 to 3 vote, technically making Connecticut to become the first U.S. state with a law requiring food manufacturers to label products containing genetically modified ingredients. But the law comes with some unusual conditions that could prevent it from ever taking effect.
Even though Governor Dannel P. Malloy is expected to sign the bill into law, Connecticut residents won’t see labeling on foods containing GMO ingredients any time soon. That’s because the bill’s conditions require at least four other states to pass similar regulations, and at least one of them must share a border with Connecticut before the law will become active.
Despite the unusual parameters for the bill, the victory has earned praise from the non-GMO community. “Connecticut’s victory marks an important step in the national movement for GE labeling, and signifies growing support for the consumer right-to-know,” said Scott Faber, Executive Director for Just Label It in a statement released by the organization.
Mark Kastel, co-director of the Cornucopia Institute, a farm policy research group, told the New York Times that the unique nature of the bill could work to support the labeling movement’s efforts. “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,” Mr. Kastel said.
At least 20 other states have labeling laws in consideration, including Hawaii, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont and New York, which borders Connecticut. California had a bill on the November 2012 ballot—Proposition 37—that was expected to pass. But an aggressive and deceptive marketing campaign by the biotech industry helped defeat it at the polls.
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Image: Kevin Vanden