CT Lawmakers Pass GMO Labeling Law

In Connecticut, both the House and Senate have passed a landmark bill that would require foods containing Genetically Modified Organisms — or GMO’s — to be clearly labeled.

The legislation calls for a “produced with genetic engineering” stamp. But it won’t show up on packaging until four other states pass similar laws. And one of those states has to adjoin Connecticut. Then the total population within states adopting GMO labeling must add up to at least 20-million. State Senate President Donald Williams sponsored the bill.

“The genesis is to ensure that there is some kind of basic market share whether its a couple of New England states or a population of a certain amount within a certain region. So that industry cannot really argue persuasively that this is an undue burden.”

John Calandrelli is the director of the Sierra Club’s Connecticut Chapter. He says requiring food companies to alter manufacturing for a state as small as Connecticut could hurt its economy. And he says writing laws that depend on other states, paves the way for federal legislation.

“It is common when a bill has the potential to cross state borders. It’s the leadership of pulling the others along with us. And of course once two get it then four get it then eight get it — the momentum builds.”

The Vermont State Senate passed a GMO labeling bill last month and Maine lawmakers will vote on their versions of a bill in the next few weeks. Four related bills are in committee in Massachusetts. Connecticut’s Williams says he expects the law to go into effect in around two years.