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Connecticut Senate Approves GMO Labeling Bill

HARTFORD, Conn. — The Connecticut State Senate passed legislation this week that would require GMO labels on foods containing genetically modified ingredients, according to reports. Foods sold in restaurants, at farmer’s markets and alcoholic beverages would be exempt.

To mitigate economic risk resulting from Connecticut being the first state in the area to adopt such legislation, the measure’s effective date would depend on whether similar bills had been passed in neighboring states. The mandate would begin on July 1, 2015 if at least three of the following states approve similar legislation: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Otherwise, the law would take effect July 1, 2016.

In either case, a GMO labeling law would put undue burden on food retailers to be the watchdogs of products coming into the store, said Stan Sorkin, president of the Connecticut Food Association, which represents 240 food retailers, wholesalers, distributors and service providers.

“We are in favor of the consumer’s right to know, which is one of the issues that the proponents of the legislation have emphasized, but we feel that people can buy product labeled USDA organic, which is GMO-free," said Sorkin. "Any additional labeling is superfluous and expensive."

Other New England states are debating mandatory GMO labeling. The Vermont State House of Representatives passed a GMO bill, which will go before the State Senate some time next year, according to reports. In Maine, the State Legislature’s Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee approved a GMO labeling measure earlier this month.

Meanwhile on Thursday, the U.S. Senate rejected an amendment to the Farm Bill proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that would allow individual states to mandate GMO labeling, according to reports. The amendment was designed to protect states that enact GMO labeling laws, from lawsuits by biotech companies and others.

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