Connecticut Makes History in Fight Against GMOs
Jul 02, 2013 05:13PM
By Virginia Trinque
InJune, Connecticut became the first state in the country to pass a law requiring genetically engineered foods to be labeled. The bill passed with a state senate vote of 34 to 0 and a state house vote of 134 to 3. Momentum for this kind of legislation seems to be spreading across the U.S. Similar bills are under consideration in northeastern states like New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Maine and Massachusetts. A total of 26 states have introduced GMO labeling bills this year.
Connecticut’s historic passage resulted from months, if not years, of work by grassroots organizations that worked both independently and together to move the tide of public opinion and impact legislators in Hartford. The original bill met with resistance when the House passed a different version of the bill and last-minute amendments seriously compromised the prospects of a GMO labeling provision, but a final call to action was made by many organizations to stand with local activists to make sure elected officials were voting with their constituencies. After more than 45,000 phone calls came in from across the country and as far away as Sweden, a compromise was reached with leaders in the House, Senate and the Governor’s office.
The effort in Connecticut and recent developments overseas highlight the global nature of this movement. A recent online campaign harnessed outrage around the world against GMOs and Monsanto. On May 25, activists in more than 400 cities in 52 countries united to March Against Monsanto. The marches in Hartford and New York City came just prior to the weekend vote in Connecticut.
Because Monsanto is threatening to sue any state that passes a standalone GMO labeling bill, leaders in the Connecticut House, Senate and Governor Dannel Malloy’s office reached an agreement stating that GMO labeling will go into effect in Connecticut if four other states pass a mandatory GMO labeling act, too. According to the provision, which is meant to protect the state from an expensive lawsuit, one of those states must touch the Connecticut border (New York, Massachusetts or Rhode Island), and all four states must have a population totaling 20 million combined. Malloy praised the compromise, saying, “This bill strikes an important balance by ensuring the consumers’ right to know what is in their food, while shielding our small businesses from liability that could leave them at a competitive disadvantage.”
These efforts stand in stark contrast to last year’s events, when one company spent close to $6 million on lobbying efforts against GMO labeling. There are many other organizations doing the same. Independent action can never match this financially, but there is something more important that will make the difference. An army of activists is dedicated to standing up for the basic right to not only know what is in the food we eat, but also to protect our environment, our health, America’s farmers and the Earth from potentially flawed, genetically engineered technology.
Those that agree can become Earth Angels by signing petitions, showing up at grassroots events, writing to their congressional representatives, and sharing on social media the following goals: to protect America’s farmers from unwanted contamination of their crops, to support state rights to label GMOs and to continue the fight to repeal the Monsanto Protection Act in Washington.
For more information, view YouTube.com/watch?v=T-IJikX1144 or visit OrganicConsumers.org/monsanto or March-Against-Monsanto.com.
Virginia Trinque is a holistic nutrition coach, energy healer and Reiki master in Danbury, CT, and has a degree in family nutrition from Queens College. Contact her at