Connecticut Passes GMO Labeling Law

Should Massachusetts be next?

Do you know what you are eating? Does it matter? tomato photo via Shutterstock

Do you know what you are eating? Does it matter? tomato photo via Shutterstock

The Connecticut legislature just passed the most comprehensive Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) labeling legislation in the country, but there are a ton of strange and almost impossible sounding obstacles to get through before the bill can go into effect. So impossible, in fact, that right now it seems like this whole thing was just for show, which is very disappointing. In order for Connecticut’s legislation to take effect, four other New England states, combining for a total aggregate population of 20 million people, have to adopt a similar provision, and one of those states must border Connecticut.  Ahem, Massachusetts.

Seems like a lot of hoop jumping.

Our neighbor to the south may have passed the legislation, but the GMO debate is still going strong. And while companies like Ben & Jerry’s (phasing out all GMOs) and Whole Foods (labeling all GMOs) are making headlines, opponents say that there is little to no science to back up claims that GMO foods are harmful. But proponents say that we should at least be able to know what we are eating, and that is a good point. No matter where you stand on the debate, don’t we have a right to know, as humans, what we are putting in our mouths? When we buy a peach at the supermarket, we can see if the peach is labeled organic, so why shouldn’t we get to know if that peach was genetically engineered? What is the harm in labeling?

On June 11th, the Joint Committee on Public Health is holding a hearing to get the public’s input on the 21 bills currently in the Massachusetts legislature on food safety and nutrition, three of which are specifically about GMOs. These bills range from sanitation codes, to allergen procedures, to the labeling of genetically modified foods. That morning at 9 a.m., groups like the Massachusetts Right to Know will be meeting in front of the State House to show their support for the labeling laws. Ben & Jerry’s will be joining them.

No matter what your politics are or what your opinion is on this matter, this is happening right in our backyard. The Boston-Cambridge-Waltham area is a huge biotech hub, and so it is interesting to think about who is in support and who is against this kind of legislation. A Massachusetts biotech company called AquaBounty has even developed a genetically modified salmon, for example, and more GMO creations are happening everyday.

So the next time you go grocery shopping, look down at that peach—where did it come from?