Today lawmakers in Connecticut passed the nation’s first ever genetically modified organism (GMO) food labelling bill. The law, which will require food producers to identify whether or not their products are genetically modified, is being hailed as a bold move in consumer protection throughout the nation.
In a statement, Ct. Governor Daniel Malloy praised the law’s passing, saying,
I am proud that leaders from each of the legislative caucuses can come together to make our state the first in the nation to require the labeling of genetically modified organisms. The end result is a law that shows our commitment to consumers’ right to know while catalyzing other states to take similar action.
GMO crops and foodstuffs have flared up in recent years as a source of considerable contention, as the often highly secretive processes by which crops like corn and soy, as well as factory farmed meats such as beef and chicken are treated, have lead many consumer health and nutrition advocates to become concerned as to potential public health affects.
The modifications which these food products undergo are often done by way of the inserting of DNA strands sourced from viruses or bacteria, generally in the interest of generating maximum yield and by way of such, maximum profits for the producers. As the specific processes and materials used are often protected under patent law, they also quite often remain secret from the consumer as well as corporate competitors.
Presently, though several states have attempted to pass GMO legislation either through drafted state legislative efforts or ballot initiatives, none have managed to pass such a law as Connecticut’s, leading many to believe that the lobbying and public-relations power of industrial interests such as ALEC or Monsanto was simply insurmountable.
Considerable pressure has been placed on lawmakers throughout the country by such industry groups, with claims that mandating the labeling of their products would adversely affect everything from their marketability to competitiveness. Yet proponents of GMO labeling claim that it levels the playing field, allowing for the very sort of consumer choice that free-market proponents are so often advocating as the best means of industrial regulation.
Though certain laws have been passed regarding the labeling of products branded “organic,” none prior to this has done so regarding GMO foods, some of which have previously slipped under the radar by way labeling such as “all natural.” Food safety and public health advocates are all now looking to Connecticut, in the hopes that they will be but the first of many to take the labeling and selling of foods for what they are seriously.