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The Surprisingly Complex Debate Over Whether Genetically Modified Foods Should Be Labeled

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Connecticut News page.


Letting Connecticut consumers know if the food they're buying has been genetically modified seems like an innocent enough idea. After all, U.S. government experts say it's safe, the agri-industrial giants say it's safe, and so do the food manufacturing conglomerates.

So why do you suppose everyone is expecting an all-out legislative Blitzkrieg to be waged against a little proposal in Connecticut's General Assembly to require labeling of genetically modified foods?

"Anytime you step on somebody's toes, you're going to stir up a hornet's nest," explains state Rep. Richard Roy, the Milford Democrat who attached the labeling proposal to a bill that came out of the legislature's Environment Committee last week.

The toes in this case belong to some of the biggest, baddest agricultural and food industry players in the world. And the reason they don't want products labeled as "genetically modified" is they know more and more consumers are worried about their food and how it's produced.

"Consumers increasingly want to know what's in their food," says Colin O'Neil, a policy analyst with the Center for Food Safety in Washington, D.C. "And the companies want to give out less information, not more."

O'Neil says bills similar to Connecticut's genetically modified (or GM) food labeling measure have been repeatedly introduced in other state legislatures and in Congress, and have been blown away by the combined lobbying power of the food, agricultural and biotechnology industries.


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