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Genetically Modified Food Bill Passes State Senate

Foods containing genetically modified organisms would have to be labeled, if a law winding its way through the Connecticut General Assembly is adopted.
Foods containing genetically modified organisms would have to be labeled, if a law winding its way through the Connecticut General Assembly is adopted. Photo Credit: Flickr user BAMCorp

DARIEN, Conn. – A bill that would require all food sold in Connecticut to carry labels if it contains genetically modified ingredients overwhelmingly passed the state Senate on Tuesday with strong support from state Sen. Bob Duff of Norwalk and Darien.

“Consumers have a right to be informed when makings decisions which affect their families, especially when it comes to the food they put on the table,” Duff (D-25th District) said in a statement after the vote. “Studies have raised important questions about the health effects of genetically modified foods, and many people are rightfully concerned.”

This week’s state Senate vote was 35-1 to send the legislation to the state House of Representatives. If approved, the bill could take effect as early as July 1, 2015, if some of the area states adopt laws first.

“This legislation is about empowering consumers to make the decisions that are right for them,” said state Sen. Carlo Leone (D-36th District-Stamford and Darien) in a statement. “By providing more information about the products in the grocery store, shoppers can decide for themselves, their family and children what they do and do not wish to buy.”

Senate Bill 802 calls for food “intended for human consumption” carry the phrase “Produced with Genetic Engineering” on the packaging if the food is entirely or partially engineered genetically. The bill requires that the phrase must be printed in the same size and font as the ingredients on the product’s nutrition facts panel. If the food is an unpackaged, raw agricultural commodity, the labeling must be displayed on the retail shelf or bin.

The issue of labeling foods produced with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has been growing in awareness in recent years. GMOs, which are plants and animals that contain genetic information – artificially engineered – from other organisms, are in lots of everyday foods, such as most processed foods, according to Grocery Manufacturers Association. Foods such as cereal, granola bars, chicken nuggets and salad dressing, all staples of the average American’s diet, contain at least one GMO ingredient.

About 90 percent of all soybeans, corn, canola and sugar beets grown in the United States now qualify as GMOs, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Various studies involving mammals that have been fed genetically modified corn or soy have found some harmful effects by GMOs, such as kidney, liver and bone marrow damage. Click here to view analysis of several studies. The entire European Union has adopted similar labeling requirements, and several area states, such as Rhode Island, New York, Massachusetts and New Jersey, are also considering labeling laws.

The bill also imposes similar requirements on seed or seed stock intended to produce food for human consumption, which must bear a label on its holding container. The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection would have enforcement authority when foods are not appropriately labeled.

Restaurants, farm products sold at farmer’s market and other foods prepared for immediate human consumption would be exempt from the law, as would some processed foods that contain a maximum of 0.9 percent of genetically modified components.

 

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