Hartford, CT—Lawmakers in Connecticut overwhelmingly passed a bill on June 3 that would require foods with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to be labeled with the words “Produced with Genetic Engineering.” It became the first state to pass such a law, but there is a multiple part catch. The law will only go into effect if and when any four states not including Connecticut, including at least one bordering Connecticut, and including states in the Northeast region with a combined population of at least 20 million, pass similar GMO labeling laws.

Although the law sets a precedent many GMO labeling activists have been working toward, it may not result in actual labeling anytime soon. Around the same time, a similar bill went down in New York at the committee stage, after legislators were reportedly lobbied by the Council for Biotechnology Information, which represents GMO food suppliers Monsanto and DuPont. The federal government also left an amendment out of the latest Farm Bill that would have declared states free to determine GMO labeling laws within their own borders.

The Connecticut bill, according to the state governor’s office, is designed to protect local farmers from bearing the brunt of change on their own, before the regional agriculture market has adopted labeling in a synchronized way. Senate president Donald E. Williams lauded the effect the law will have if it does take effect, saying “This bipartisan agreement means that Connecticut families have all the information they need to make informed, healthy choices when feeding their families. There is mounting scientific evidence showing that genetically modified foods are harmful to our health.”

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, July 2013