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Connecticut Lawmakers Urge NY to Pass GMO Labeling Bill

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page, Millions Against Monsanto page, New York News page and our Connecticut News page.

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - State lawmakers are urging their colleagues in neighboring New York to consider legislation that requires genetically modified food to be labeled for consumers, hoping passage there will ultimately lead to the final enactment of Connecticut's new labeling law.

Connecticut's mandate can't take effect until other Northeast states pass similar labeling rules.

Senate President Donald E. Williams Jr., D-Brooklyn, and Rep. Susan Johnson, D-Windham, the co-chairman of the General Assembly's Public Health Committee, have both submitted testimony for a New York legislative committee to consider at a hearing Tuesday.

Legislation under consideration in New York would require food or food products that contain genetically modified organisms or are produced with genetically modified material to be labeled, with some exceptions. Penalties would be imposed for false labels and misbranding.

Connecticut's labeling law, enacted this year, requires labeling of food intended for human consumption, as well as seed or seed stock, that that is entirely or partially genetically modified. The labels must bear the words "produced with genetic engineering." Packaged foods must be labeled on the package while wholesale foods must be labeled on the bill of sale. Raw agricultural goods must be labeled on the retail store shelf or bin.

But Connecticut's law won't take effect until four other Northeast states with a combined population of 20 million people pass similar legislation. One state must be a border state. The requirement was added after concern was voiced regarding the cost of labeling products for only Connecticut, which has a population of about 3.5 million people.

"If New York were to pass this legislation, we would be well on our way to meeting the requirement so that Connecticut and other states in the Northeast would have labeling when it comes to genetically modified foods," said Williams, who appeared with Johnson on Monday at the Willimantic Food Cooperative, which helped with efforts to pass Connecticut's bill. Bills are also pending in Maine and Vermont.

Williams said he's hopeful the number of required states will take action within the next year or two and Connecticut's law will take effect.     

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