Connecticut became the first state to pass a bill that would require food manufacturers to label products that contain genetically engineered (GE) ingredients. The legislature passed the bill by a wide margin, 134 to 3.

Apparently recognizing the dire impacts that such a unilateral move would have on the state, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has said he would sign the bill into law only after reaching an agreement with the legislature to include a provision that the law would not take effect unless four other states, at least one of which shares a border with Connecticut, passed similar regulations. The contingency trigger also includes a provision that those other states must have a total population of at least 20 million.

 

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In ’05, Alaska passed a law requiring the labeling of all GE fish and shellfish, but Connecticut would become the first state to adopt labeling broadly. More than 20 other states are considering labeling laws, including New York, Maine and Vermont. A ballot initiative that would require labeling in Washington has acquired the necessary signatures to put it on the November ballot.

Agricultural and food industries have endorsed voluntary labeling for GE ingredients and have supported the Food & Drug Administration’s long-standing policy requiring labeling of foods only when issues such as food safety, consumer health or nutrition were at issue.

 

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