Last month, Connecticut became the first state to pass a law requiring the labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients.
But it may be a while before labels dot the supermarkets, as the state is not eager to be the only one with such a law on the books. The bill included a provision that the law will only take effect once at least four other states have passed similar laws, as well as a further provision that other Northeastern states with a combined population of 20 million or more must pass the labeling law too.
The GMO-labeling debate has been quietly continuing since last year when California voters declined to adopt the statewide ballot initiative known as Proposition 37, by a 51-48 percent margin.
Around the country, food writers and others closely watched the California labeling battle, as many saw the initiative as GMO-labeling’s first big test. Michael Pollan writing in The New York Times called Prop. 37 a potential turning point for the larger food movement.
During the campaign the opposition, which included agribusiness giants like Monsanto, Pepsico, Inc. and DOW, outspent the group leading the “Yes” camp, California Right to Know, by more than 5 to 1.
In the year since, about half of the states have introduced some version of a bill requiring the labeling of genetically engineered foods or banning them all together, according to the Center for Food Safety.
In several states the bills either died in committee or were withdrawn including Florida, Maryland and Missouri. In November, Washington narrowly voted down a labeling bill by a 51-49 percent margin.
Looking ahead, Vermont will likely be the next state to take up the GMO debate. A bill requiring GMO labeling passed the state House last May and is scheduled to reach the Senate this month.