The Connecticut bill HB 6527, the first ever State GMO labeling bill, was ratified by the House and Senate after much mediation and grass roots communication. After several days of intense negotiation between the Senate, the House, and the Governor’s office, several compromises were reached.
An amendment exempting farmers growing less than 1.5 million dollars, which would have rendered the bill meaningless, was not included. However, the following language was inserted to ensure the law will only go into effect when: “Four states, not including this state, enact a mandatory labeling law for genetically-engineered foods that is consistent with the provisions of this subsection, provided one such state borders Connecticut; and (2) the aggregate population of such states located in the northeast region of the United States that have enacted a mandatory labeling law for genetically-engineered foods that is consistent with this subsection exceed twenty million based on 2010 census figures.”
This agreement will provide even further impetus for the activists working in 26 other states and on the federal level to allow transparency in labeling. Washington State’s Act I-522 will be on the ballot this November and has a likely chance of winning. The Just Label it Campaign has secured over 1.2 million signatures urging the FDA to require mandatory labeling. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California) has introduced an amendment to the Farm Bill, # 1025, that would require national mandatory GMO labeling by FDA and USDA. With over 90% of U.S. consumers indicating they want the right to make informed decisions about GMO products, I believe we are closer to making this goal a reality.
We should take pause to celebrate our progress, but we must remain equally vigilant. There are many powerful opponents that will seek to water down language in the state bills and coerce Congress to block any federal action. We should expect lawsuits challenging labeling laws before they take effect. Big Ag and large food companies will launch scare campaigns to sway public opinion with false claims of dramatic food price increases.
Many believe that national mandatory labeling of GMO foods is the best solution for consumers and for the food industry. If you care about this issue, Call your Senator and urge them to Support Boxer’s (D-California) Sense of the Senate amendment (# 1025) in support of mandatory GMO labeling as well as her amendment requesting that the FDA and USDA study the 64 countries around the world that already require GMO labeling (# 1026).
To quote our President Barack Obama “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”