Connecticut to be first state to require GM food labeling

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Over the weekend, Connecticut’s House and Senate agreed on a version of a bill that would require genetically modified foods be labeled, which would make the state the first to pass such legislation. The bill awaits the signature of Gov. Dannel Pl. Malloy.

In a bipartisan statement released after the bill’s passage, Gov. Malloy said, “This bill strikes an important balance by ensuring the consumers’ right to know what is in their food while shielding our small businesses from liability that could leave them at a competitive disadvantage.”

The bill passed the Senate 34-0 and the House on Monday, 134-3. State Representative Patricia Widlitz (D-Guilford) explained the bill would contain a “regional distribution system” to protect Connecticut from higher prices.

Triggers in the bill will ensure that there will be enough clout to make labeling of GM foods economically feasible for producers. Those triggers include:

  • Four additional states must pass a similar law (one of which must border Connecticut)
  • States in the Northeast region with a combined population of at least 20 million as of 2010 must pass legislation. The Northeast region is defined as New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. New York’s state population, according to the 2010 census is 19.38 million, so one other state would have to enact a law to activate Connecticut’s. One house in the Vermont legislature has approved such a bill.

According to the New Hampshire Register, the problem representatives had with the Senate bill was that Connecticut’s bill would go into effect in July 2016 even if no other state passed a similar law. Although the “sunrise clause” did not upset GM labeling proponents, an exemption for all farms that made less than $1.5 million on a single crop concerned them.

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