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VT Court Case Could Affect CT’s GMO Labeling Law

Almost 90 percent of corn for feeding cattle, pigs and chickens is grown from genetically modified seeds. Credit: Juliacasado1/pixabay.com
Almost 90 percent of corn for feeding cattle, pigs and chickens is grown from genetically modified seeds. Credit: Juliacasado1/pixabay.com
October 7, 2015

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - A challenge to a Vermont law requiring the labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms goes before a federal court of appeals this week, and the results could affect Connecticut.

Connecticut passed a GMO labeling law in 2013, but it can't go into effect until at least four other states pass similar laws. Advocates say Massachusetts may do that soon, but according to Tara Cook-Littman, chair of Citizens for GMO Labeling, Vermont and Connecticut are in the same judicial district.

"If Vermont's law is overturned or if there's an injunction placed on the Vermont law," she said, "then the Connecticut law could be in jeopardy as well."

The food industry, which opposes the Vermont law, has said there are no health or safety reasons to label food containing GMO products. The industry also maintains that only Washington can regulate labeling. Cook-Littman disagrees.

"It's completely constitutional for states to pass GMO labelling laws to protect their own citizens and allow their citizens to choose what they want to feed their families," she said.

More than 60 countries already require GMO labeling.

According to the food industry, the Food and Drug Administration has found more than 100 genetically engineered crops to be safe for human consumption, so labeling is confusing. Cook-Littman said people have a right to know.

"They never allowed the free market to work," she said. "So all we're asking is that they put the information on the packages and let the consumers decide if we want GMOs in our food or not."

A federal bill banning states from requiring labels on food containing GMOs has passed in the House. The Senate is scheduled to hold a hearing on the bill later this month.

Connecticut Public Act No. 13-183 is online at cga.ct.gov. The federal bill, HR 1599, is at congress.gov.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - CT