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GMO 'Right to Know' campaign in CT fails — Lawsuit threatened

By Anne Sewell     May 5, 2012 in Food
The G.E. foods bill in Connecticut has been stripped of its labeling requirement due to industry pressure and threats of a law suit.
Connecticut tried and failed to have GMOs labeled.
Rep. Richard Roy of Milford, CT. is co-chair of the Environment Committee and the original sponsor of the bill HB 5117, An Act Concerning Genetically Engineered Foods, which was discussed in legislature today, as explained by the Fairfield Green Food Guide.
The bill had been overwhelmingly backed by the Legislative committee in March this year. Both political sides were in agreement over measures giving consumers more information about what they are eating.
Right to Know CT rallied on Friday, May 4, 2012 in support of Rep. Roy's bill and handed over the Right to Know signed petition to the legislature. The petition had just under 10,000 signatures.
However, today turned out to be a disappointment as the legislature states that the labeling requirement for the G.E. foods bill has been removed. Apparently this is due to "industry pressure" and threats of a law suit.
Last month Digital Journal reported that Vermont had to drop the idea of labeling GMOs, or be sued by the agricultural giant Monsanto. Now it seems Connecticut is in the same boat.
When reached for comment today, Rep Roy said, according to Fairfield Green Good Guide: “I feel very strongly that someone or some state has to challenge the use of the Bill of Rights, designed to protect we individuals, from using it to thwart the sharing of information and the subjugation of a whole industry. Residents of more than 50 other countries get simple information saying that GMOs are present in a product. The freest society in the world cannot get that simple sentence.”
Analiese Paik of Fairfield Green Food Guide asked Rep. Roy why the labeling provision was removed from his bill, the Act Concerning Genetically Engineered Foods.
Roy replied that “The labeling provision was eliminated from the bill due to fears that it opened the state up to a lawsuit. The attorneys for the leadership and Governor’s office felt that the Constitutional Rights of Monsanto gave them the power to successfully sue the state. Their main duty was to protect the welfare of the state.”
Paik's partner in leader Right to Know CT, Tara Cook-Littman, stated, “The constitutional argument is absurd, and everyone knows it. As long as Connecticut law makers had a legitimate state interest that was reasonably related to the labeling of products produced from the process of genetic engineering, the GMO labeling bill would be considered constitutional by any court of law.”
She added, “It appears that the biotech industry’s influence was in place all along, waiting for this tactic to be deployed at the last minute, with no time to argue before the vote.”
Right to Know CT have announced that they will no longer endorse or support HB 5117.
Members stated to Rep. Roy this morning, “You are our hero and we supported your bill, but this is no longer a bill that reflects your intent to label and we must register our discontent by withdrawing our support.”
And so the fight continues.
It can only be hoped that California has more success than Vermont and Connecticut.
The video below is a brief extract of a bipartisan news conference and legislative forum hosted by Rep. Richard Roy on the need to label genetically modified foods (GMOs). The video is from the Fairfield Green Food Guide.
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