Governor Dannel P. Malloy and leaders from each of the legislative caucuses today announced an agreement that will make Connecticut the first state in the country to require the labeling of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). For the legislation to take effect, four states (including one state which borders Connecticut) must pass a similar bill. In addition, any combination of northeastern states (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania or New Jersey), with a combined population of at least 20 million people, must approve similar legislation.
"We have vigorously pursued all opportunities to improve nutrition across Connecticut," said Governor Malloy. "By increasing access to school breakfast for undernourished children, supporting local farmers, and strengthening how we market Connecticut grown products, we are making strides to get healthy foods on tables across the state. 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. I look forward to working with advocates and stakeholders on this important issue, and thank legislative leaders for their work in crafting this legislation."
This bill protects local farming by ensuring that the regional agriculture market has adopted the new labeling system before placing an undue and disproportionate burden on Connecticut farmers that requires them to analyze and label products.
"This bipartisan agreement means that Connecticut families have all the information they need to make informed, healthy choices when feeding their families," said Senate President Donald E. Williams (D-Brooklyn). "There is mounting scientific evidence showing that genetically modified foods are harmful to our health."
"This law doesn't ban, or restrict, or tax anything. It simply let's mom's and dad's know what's in the food they're buying for their children," said Senate Republican Leader John McKinney (R-Fairfield). "I'm pleased Connecticut is a pioneer in passing this common sense legislation. I urge Washington follow our lead."
A genetically engineered food as envisioned in this legislation is food that is intended for human consumption and seed that is intended to produce food for human consumption, which has been genetically altered by scientists to improve its ability to grow in non-native environments, resist pests, tolerate extreme weather conditions, produce more food (like milk in cows), or show other desired traits. GMOs found in these genetically engineered foods are created by scientists and cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding.
"Today is a significant victory in the fight to know what is in the food we eat and what we feed to our families," said Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey (D-Hamden). "Connecticut will be the first state in the nation to pass a GMO labeling law and this sets the stage for other states to join the growing movement to give consumers more choices. As a small state, Connecticut couldn't go it alone -- this compromise strikes the right balance."
"Consumers deserve to know what they are eating," said House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz (D-Berlin & Southington). "I'm proud that Connecticut is taking a bold and sensible step to allow families to make informed decisions when purchasing food."
"This bill is simply about the right of people to know what the food they buy contains so they can make healthy, educated choices about what their families will or won't eat," said House Republican Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr. (R-Norwalk). "In this regard, Connecticut is a pioneer in transparency concerning the foods we eat."
On May 24, the House of Representatives voted 114-7 to approve the bill in its original form which would have required the labeling of genetically-engineered food only after five states, with an aggregate population of 25 million, adopt a similar labeling provision. Two of the five trigger states had to border Connecticut or be New York and New Jersey.