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Connecticut Senate Approves GMO Labeling Bill

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

A bill that would require food made with genetically modified organisms to carry labels cleared the state Senate late Tuesday night.

The Senate's approval, on a 35-1 vote, gives new energy to a measure that had strong grassroots backing but appeared stalled at the Capitol this year. But its prospects in the House of Representatives are murkier.

"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 said. "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."

Sharkey said he is taking a vote count to see if there is sufficient backing for the bill in his chamber.

Even if the bill passes the House and is signed into law by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, it would not take effect until at least three other states pass similar legislation. GMO labeling legislation is pending in more than a dozen states.

Some food would be exempt from the labeling mandate: food served or sold in a restaurant for immediate consumption, as well as alcoholic beverages and farm products sold at farmer's markets, roadside stands and pick-your-own farms.

Still, supporters hailed the bill as a victory for consumers.

"We're not banning anything, we're not restricting anything, we're not taxing anything," Senate Republican leader John McKinney said at a press conference on the Capitol steps several hours before the vote. "We're just saying let moms and dads know what's in the food their buying for their young kids.   That's not a lot to ask."

Genetically altered ingredients are found in many processed foods. Through gene-splicing and other techniques, farmers have modified crops to better resist diseases. The bioscience industry, food makers and the federal government say such foods are safe, but activists worried about long-term health consequences have led the push for labels.