by Shicana Allen
For the past two years, a dedicated group of Connecticut citizens, called “GMO Free CT,” have worked tirelessly in their attempts to pass a state law for mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods. Finally this week, success was achieved! After a unanimous vote in the Senate, followed by an overwhelming majority vote in the House (134-3), and strong support from Connecticut Governor Malloy, HB 6527 was passed into law on Monday, June 3rd, 2013. This date is to be regarded as a major milestone in the history of both the food safety and non-GMO movements.
Things did not go completely smoothly along the way, due to a temporary setback that many feared might signal the measure’s defeat. The hiccup in the bill’s passage occurred after the initial senatorial victory was sideswiped by an unexpectedly negative response from the House. The bill was rewritten by the House, but included such problematic requirements that it was rendered meaningless. For example, nearly all local food producers would be exempted, and 15 states would have to pass a similar bill before the Connecticut bill would be enacted. However, after several days of intense negotiations, a reasonable compromise was reached. Not only did the bill pass, but it was sponsored by all four leaders of the Senate and the House…a surprising show of bipartisan unity. It was deemed that a well-orchestrated social media campaign by the pro-labeling grassroots organization GMO Free CT helped propel the bill to its ultimate triumph. Organizers urged thousands of health-minded, consumer-oriented citizens to make phone calls voicing their support of the labeling bill. This undeniable outpouring from constituents apparently did the trick, changing several NO votes to YES. Congratulations to Connecticut’s passionate activists and all its residents!
“GMO Free CT is grateful that IRT provided educational materials for our campaign and that so many of the CT activists were educated by you. Thank you for all the support.”~Tara Cook-Littman, state organizer
IRT congratulates all the volunteers in Connecticut who tirelessly worked on this issue for two years. We also want to give a shout out to Representative Roy who first introduced the bill last year, Tara Cook Littman who headed the state effort to victory, and all the national groups that contributed expertise, staff time, and materials.
We also want to thank our donors who allowed us to support the work in Connecticut. With your help, IRT and the IRT Food Policy Fund dispatched Jeffrey Smith to Connecticut twice. Last session he joined senators and representatives for a press conference in the state house, held a public talk there, and met with representatives to discuss strategy. Over the summer, he testified before the Task Force on Labeling and led a strategy session with local activists. We also sent educational materials to the state, helped train volunteers, and helped with regular emails to our Connecticut subscribers.
Shicana Allen has been a health, environmental, and food safety advocate, writer, and public speaker for over 20 years
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