Shoppers at Connecticut supermarkets would be able to know if genetically engineered foods are being sold under a bill state lawmakers are considering that would require labeling on such foods, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal.
Neither the federal government nor any state currently has a labeling requirement that applies to all genetically modified foods—Connecticut is one 18 states considering it.
The legislation would require clear labeling on any food sold in the state that is completely or partially produced with genetic engineering. Rep. Richard Roy (D-Milford), who co-chairs the state Environment Committee, introduced the legislation due to public concern. Roy said his bill has gained bipartisan support, and he expects the committee to pass it, although it's unclear how much further it will go.
"We're not taking a stance on whether GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are good or bad," said Roy at a recent hearing on the bill. "What we're saying is that we have a right to know what we're putting in our bodies."
Proponents of the legislation say that genetically engineered foods pose allergy and other health risks and that the labels will increase safety for consumers. Opponents, including grocery stores and farmers, argue that genetically engineered food has been long-studied and is proven to be safe.
While the legislation looks to add labels, it does not require genetically engineered ingredients to be listed or identified, according to the Journal article. Additionally, the label would not be placed on foods from animals that were fed genetically engineered crops or fast food. Under the proposed legislation, genetically engineered foods include any food that is unnaturally produced by altering genetic material.
Growing genetically engineered crops is attractive to farmers because they are modified to resist insects and tolerate herbicides. According to USDA data, the growth of genetically engineered crops has increased tremendously since their commercial introduction in 1996.