Just over half of Americans say they wouldn’t buy a food they knew was genetically modified. Another 87 percent say they want to see GM labels at the grocery store. That’s one reason why Connecticut’s recent failure to require labeling is so surprising, says Treehugger. Now, genetically-modified food is controversial among consumers, farmers, and scientists, and it’s difficult to find a consensus on GM benefits and risks. The World Health Organization, for instance, while noting some potential human health hazards like gene transfer, maintains GM safety is a case-by-case issue.
But the biggest opposition in Connecticut didn’t come from scientists. The reason the bill failed appears to be pressure from Monsanto, which reportedly threatened state legislators with legal action. This was the same tactic that got a GM labeling provision thrown out in Vermont last month, as the one thing cash-strapped states don’t need is a big lawsuit.
Back in 2007, then-candidate Obama said he supported labeling requirements for GM foods. But after years of silence and a high-profile national campaign last fall to get action from Washington (and another one earlier this year), many states have taken matters into their own hands. Mostly, it’s been slow going. In Minnesota, a bill requiring labels failed in March. Legislators voted down a similar bill in Washington state recently, reportedly after facing pressure from, you guessed it, Monsanto and other biotech firms.