FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Fairfield restaurant Catch A Healthy Habit hosted Gov. Dannel Malloy and local lawmakers Wednesday afternoon for the official signing of a historic state law that requires food products to be labeled if they contain genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.
“I am proud that leaders from each of the legislative caucuses can come together to make our state the first in the nation to require the labeling of GMOs,” said Malloy. “The end result is a law that shows our commitment to consumers’ right to know while catalyzing other states to take similar action.”
Four other states must enact similar GMO laws before the labeling can begin. The combined population of the five states must number at least 20 million people and include Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania or New Jersey.
In the small, crowded restaurant on Unquowa, supporters of the legislation gathered, including Tara Cook-Littman, director of GMO Free CT and one of the advocates for the law. The lunch-time crowd packed in to watch as Malloy signed the bill.
Cook-Littman said she was excited that everyone could gather in the same place where she and state Rep. Tony Hwang, a Republican from Fairfield, first spoke about the possibility of such a bill.
“We are hopeful that legislators throughout the Northeast will follow the lead of Governor Malloy and all our legislative champions by passing laws that give consumers transparency in labeling. It is a great honor for all of us to stand with Governor Malloy as he signs the first in the nation GMO labeling law,” Cook-Littman said.
“This bill moves forward and reinforces our fundamental right to know what is in our food so we can make informed choices about what we feed our families,” said Hwang . “Consumers may or may not wish to purchase foods that they know to be genetically modified, but they need the information made available to them to make those informed choices.”
The bill also includes language that protects Connecticut farmers by ensuring regional adoption of the new labeling system before requiring local farms to analyze and label genetically engineered products.
“I'm hopeful the rest of the nation will follow Connecticut's lead,” said state Rep. Brenda Kupchick, R-Fairfield.
The bill is a huge step forward, Malloy said, adding that he was proud to be governor of the first state in the country to pass such a labeling law.
“I also want to be clear: This law does not ban anything. It requires the labeling of food products that have been modified with genetic engineering and do not occur naturally,” he said.