AP / June 1, 2013
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The Connecticut Senate on Saturday approved a compromise bill that would require special labels on food that contains genetically modified ingredients, so long as other states pass similar legislation.
The unanimous vote came shortly after legislative leaders announced they had reached bipartisan agreement. It had appeared questionable whether the General Assembly would pass a genetic labeling proposal this session because the House and Senate had advanced competing bills. This year’s session ends on June 5.
House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, said the House is committed to taking up the bill next before the legislature adjourns.
‘‘This is a great day, that we in Connecticut can lead the way on helping moms and dads across Connecticut — and I think this will catch on across the nation — so they can be informed and make informed choices when buying food for their kids and for themselves,’’ said Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield.
The compromise legislation, which moves to the House of Representatives for further action, requires food that is entirely or partially genetically engineered to be labeled with the words ‘‘Produced with Genetic Engineering’’ on the packaging. The mandate would take effect after four other states, including one that borders Connecticut, enact a similar law. Also, it requires the aggregate population of any Northeast states (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania or New Jersey) that enact such labeling laws to comprise a population of more than 20 million people.
Senate President Donald Williams Jr., D-Brooklyn, said if New York, which has a population of about 19 million people, passes a similar labeling requirement, the new Connecticut law would take effect given his state’s population is about 3.5 million people. There have been concerns that Connecticut consumers might face higher prices if the state was the first to require labeling.
‘‘There was a lot of feeling that there needed to be at least a regional market, some significant population group, at least in the Northeast,’’ Williams said.