State Representative Richard Roy (D-Milford) hosted a news conference and legislative forum supporting labels on products in Connecticut that contain Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). The clear labels would allow residents the ability to choose whether or not to purchase GMO items.
“I feel the federal government has turned its back on consumers and is more interested in helping the agriculture industry hide what is actually going into our food.” said Rep. Roy, House Chair of the Environment Committee. “In some cases, pesticides are inserted into seeds, genetically modifying the food we eat. You can’t wash out these pesticides, they’re there forever.”
The Environment Committee recently raised HB 5117, An Act Requiring the Labeling of Genetically-Engineered Foods. The Commissioner of Environmental Protection and Commissioner of Consumer Protection would be responsible for label content and form.
GMOs are products that have been genetically modified at the cellular level to increase yields and resist disease. DNA molecules from different sources are combined into one molecule to create a new set of genes. This DNA is then transferred into an organism, giving it modified genes.
Long term effects of GMOs on consumers have not been determined. GMOs are banned in five countries in the European Union, most recently Germany.
“Consumers have a right to know what is in their food,” said State Representative Phil Miller, Vice-chair of the Environment Committee. “When a parent buys fruit, they assume that they are bringing a natural snack home for their children, but that isn’t always the case these days. When we buy packaged foods, we can read the label and make an informed decision if we want to buy that product—so why shouldn’t parents know if fruit contains genetically modified ingredients?”
Types of foods that have been genetically modified include:
· Soy beans
· Cotton seed oil
· Canola oil
· Sugar beets
· Milk with bovine growth hormone
“In recent years we’ve made tremendous progress in food labeling requirements, working to help consumers know what they buy and what they eat in terms of a comprehensive list of ingredients, nutrition information and vitamin content, and things to watch like sugar, fat, and calorie content,” Senator Edith G. Prague (D-Columbia) said. “I think this bill is consistent with that progress, to help consumers know whether and when the food they buy includes GMOs or has been subjected to any of these accelerated modification techniques.”
“Labeling of modified products is not new nor is it negative,” said Catherine Iaccarino, a concerned citizen who testified before the Environment Committee. “Labeling of milk that has been modified, for example, informs us if it is 2%, skim or lactose free. This is a simple request that Genetically Modified Organisms carry the label for which they are named GMO. It is a request to exercise our right of freedom of choice."
Rep. Roy hopes passage of this bill will allow Connecticut to become a national model for GMO labeling. GMO labeling legislation is also pending on the federal level and in Vermont, Washington and California.
There are no long term studies of the effects of GMO’s,” said Rep. Roy. “We’ll all be subjects of a giant experiment unless we’re made aware of what we are eating.”