Representatives T. R. Rowe (R-123) and Tony Hwang (R-134) have co-sponsored legislation this session of the Connecticut General Assembly that would require the labeling of genetically-engineered foods and to create best practices for GMO farming, as well as establish preferences for food products that are voluntarily labeled to indicate whether they include genetically-engineered ingredients.
Neither the federal government, nor any other state in the nation has a labeling requirement that applies to all genetically modified foods, though it is currently under consideration in a number of legislators. Both representatives said the measure does not take a position that genetically modified foods are good or bad, and the bill is simply about giving information to consumers.
“Currently, there is no requirement that foods that are genetically modified for the purpose of being pest-resistant or for any other reason be labeled to reflect that fact,” said Rep. T. R. Rowe. “Consumers may or may not wish to purchase foods that they know to be genetically modified, but they need the information made available to them to make those informed choices. This bill would require labels provide that information to consumers. I am not one to favor excessive state regulation, but the fact of the matter is that there is no oversight of GMO foods. With so many unanswered questions about their safety, the state needs to step in and at least ensure GMO foods are labeled as such.”
“I have learned about GMO’s from community advocates like Analiese Paik, Tara Cook-Littman and Glen Colello. They have reinforced that this bill is simply a ‘right to know’ what is placed into our food supply and our bodies, I also agree with Rep. Rowe’s concern about excessive state regulations but we are simply asserting the consumer’s right to know” said Rep. Tony Hwang. “I appreciate the economic implications of this legislation and I believe the consumer marketplace should make that determination. In fact, we could help our community farmers produce organic non-GMO products that could evolve into a higher margin/high demand business model. It can be a win-win situation.”
“HB 5117 is very important,” said Glen Colello of Catch a Healthy Habit Café in Fairfield, who testified at the public hearing. “Connecticut can be the first to lay the ground work to label foods that include GMO’s. Other states will follow only after the first state stands up and passes the law!”
The Bill, HB 5117 is currently before the legislature’s Environment Committee, and had a public hearing on February 22.
Photo above: Rep. Tony Hwang, T. R. Rowe, Senator John McKinney, Rep. Fred Camillo with Tara Cook-Littman, Analiese and Sungkey Paik, Glen Colello along with their children up at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford following the public hearing on labeling of GMO foods.