The Connecticut state Senate passed a bill on Tuesday that would require foods containing genetically modified organisms to be labeled.
The Senate approved the bill on a 35-1 vote. It will likely re-energize the movement to label GMO foods across the country. The measure has strong grassroots backing.
While the GMO labeling bill flew through the Senate, it will probably have a harder time passing in the House of Representatives. House Speaker Brendan Sharkley explained:
“I’m concerned about our state going out on its own on this and the potential economic disadvantage that could cause. 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.”
The Connecticut measure would require three nearby states to pass similar bills by July 2015 in order to go into effect. However, with more than a dozen GMO labeling bills pending in states across the country, it would likely become reality.
In an interview near the House podium on Wednesday, Sharkey stated that his majority caucus met behind closed doors to discuss the measure. He explained, “The caucus confirmed my own sense that obviously we want to do something.”
Despite the murky future of the GMO labeling bill, supporters considered the Senate’s approval a win for their cause. Senate Republican leader John McKinney explained during a press conference before the vote:
“We’re not banning anything, we’re not restricting anything, we’re not taxing anything. We’re just letting moms and dads know what’s in the food [they're] buying for their young kids … That’s not a lot to ask.”
But for the bioscience industry, it is. The industry says that GMOs are safe and has vowed to fight any labeling law. Paul Pescatello, a board member of Connecticut United for Research Excellence, stated:
“There’s a lot of emotion that’s surrounding this bill right now. There’s a lot of science out there about GMO foods and GMO crops, and people should look at the science, they should read the science, they should understand the science and then … make a decision.”
Pescatello added that requiring labels on GMO products could raise constitutional issues regarding free speech. He added, “There’s an implication that there’s something wrong with GMO foods, that there’s sort of a scarlet letter attached to it.”
Do you think GMO foods and products should be labeled?
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