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article imageOp-Ed: Connecticut Senate passes GMO labeling laws, House adds hurdles

By Leigh Goessl     May 24, 2013 in Food
Connecticut is the most recent state in the U.S. seeking to require companies producing foods made with genetically modified organisms to carry labels. This week the state Senate approved a bill that would pass such a law. The House had other ideas.
The State of Connecticut has moved forward with the genetically modified organisms (GMO) labeling issue once again. Many GMO labeling proponents were pleased with the Senate's bill, the House's decision, not so much.
Connecticut Senate passes GMO labeling
On Tuesday night, the Connecticut State Senate had passed a 35-1 vote breathing new life into a GMO labeling requirement, according to the Hartford Courant.
While there were exceptions in the Senate version, such as exempting certain smaller food sellers from having to comply, if passed in Connecticut House of Representatives, it would have been a good move forward in providing consumers with the right-to-know what they are eating.
"We're not banning anything, we're not restricting anything, we're not taxing anything," Senate Republican leader John McKinney had said at a press conference on the Capitol steps before the vote took place. "We're just saying let moms and dads know what's in the food they're buying for their young kids. … That's not a lot to ask."
And is it really a lot to ask? Many food products have to disclose their ingredients by law, so why should foods with GMOs be an exception? Consumers can still buy GMO foods if they choose.
Additionally, if the products are so great, wouldn't any company want to have bragging rights on labels?
House drafts its own legislation
House lawmakers were hoping to get a "multi-state compact", reported the Norwich Bulletin.
California Right to Know
California Right to Know
California Right to Know
"I'm concerned about our state going out on its own on this and the potential economic disadvantage that could cause,'' House Speaker Brendan Sharkey had said earlier in the week (courtesy Hartford Courant). "I would like to see us be part of a compact with some other states, which would hopefully include one of the bigger states such as New York."
It looks like that point caused a dissension. The House of Representatives did approve a GMO labeling measure, but drafted a new bill and added in some hurdles.
Labeling proponents disappointed
GMO Free CT expressed their disappointment in what was passed once it reached Connecticut's House vote.
In the middle of the night, the House passed and sent a bill back to the Senate that would allow Connecticut citizens the right to know what is in their food, only after 25 million other Americans earn that right with the requirement that those 25 million be from five other states with two of those states being either New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, or Rhode Island. If you’re confused by all of this, we understand. This is not leadership, but an abdication of responsibility.
Other state attempts at labeling
Many states and local municipalities in the U.S. have been attempting to get laws passed. The State of Connecticut is the most recent in a long line of mostly failed attempts of trying to get labeling on foods produced with GMOs.
Earlier this year the highly-publicized Proposition 37 was narrowly voted down by voters in California, as reported by Digital Journal. GMO market leader Monsanto and other companies spent big money in this campaign. Hawaii, another state that had pending legislation, also backed down from passing mandatory GMO labeling.
Monsanto also said last year they'd sue the State of Vermont if it passed its proposed GMO labeling laws. A similar threat of lawsuit was made during Connecticut's last attempt to get legislature passed. The basis was the states preempted federal authority.
Protesters of Occupy Monsanto Maui
Protesters of Occupy Monsanto Maui
Occupy Monsanto Maui
What does the future hold?
How this plays out remains to be seen. But if history is any indicator, labeling is not on the immediate horizon. Many states still have laws pending, but just yesterday the U.S. Senate rejected legislation with a vote of 71 to 27 allowing states to decide for themselves if they wanted GMO labeling.
Meanwhile, grocery chain Whole Foods Market has decided to set its own precedent. It will begin requiring its suppliers to have labels in place by 2018.
Tomorrow, consumers across the world will be speaking up as the March against Monsanto is scheduled to take place.
Without the support of the feds and now limiting state's ability to pass their own laws, it might just boil down to the consumer market making the decision by purchasing products that are labeled non-GMO and demanding their grocers stock their shelves with products or else risk losing business.
If the Whole Foods Market decision is any indicator, those suppliers don't mind adding the label, many are doing it already.
So why is it that Monsanto and other GMO companies mind so much?
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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