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Earlier this month, and within just days of each other, both Connecticut and Maine passed bills to require the labeling of food products that contain genetically modified ingredients.

Much to the dismay of Monsanto and other biotech companies that lobbied heavily to kill the initiatives, the bills were passed with overwhelming support in both state Legislatures – but not before industry left their fingerprints on the final language.  In an effort to delay implementation, lobbyists were able to insert clauses into both bills that prevents them from going into effect until other states pass similar legislation.

In Connecticut’s case, the labeling requirement can only kick in after four other states pass GMO labeling bills, one of which must share a border with Connecticut, and the states must have a combined minimum population of 20 million people.  Maine’s bill will go into effect after five other states pass similar bills, and the states must be contiguous (i.e. bordering each other).

Sound like a tall order?  It is – but the momentum is on the side of GMO labeling.  Bills are currently pending in New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts and Vermont, and this fall Washington state voters will decide the fate of labeling via a ballot initiative.

Of course, Congress could put a quick end to this piecemeal process if it would  listen to Americans and pass the recently-introduced federal GMO labeling bill. In a just-released poll by ABC News, an overwhelming 93% of Americans want the label to say if the food within has been genetically engineered.

Congress finally may be paying attention. A Senate committee recently passed an amendment to require the labeling of genetically engineered salmon. And the marketplace is responding too, with burrito chain Chipotle becoming the first restaurant to label the GMO ingredients on their menu.

But we’re up against the powerful biotech industry.  It spent $44 million with the grocery lobby to defeat the GMO labeling ballot initiative in California last fall, and is now hard at work to defeat state bills and the national effort.

Make sure your members of Congress know where you stand on the issue by sending them an email in support of a national labeling law.  You deserve the right to know what you’re eating!

 

Update (6/26/13):   Connecticut’s Governor Malloy signed the labeling bill into law today.   Maine’s bill still needs to clear one last procedural hurdle before heading to Governor LePage’s desk.