Why I Voted “No” on the GMO Labeling Bill

May 22, 2013

“Enacting labeling requirements on Connecticut producers when no other states require them will place Connecticut farmers at a competitive disadvantage.”

That’s what the Connecticut Department of Agriculture told members of the legislature’s Public Health Committee in the department’s testimony on the bill that would require labels on genetically modified foods.

I serve on the Public Health Committee. I also own a small business, and I represent many farms. I heard the state Department of Agriculture’s words loud and clear.

I also heard from many residents who have said they deserve to know what is in their food, specifically whether that food has been produced with genetically modified crops. I agree with those residents – this is an understandable desire.

However, when I weighed the arguments, I determined that the GMO labeling bill would put Connecticut food distributors at a disadvantage. Given that the food production and distribution system in our country stretches nationwide, I believe that this issue is best addressed in Washington, DC rather than in Hartford. On March 19, I wrote to Connecticut’s congressional delegation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture urging that action be taken at the federal level.

On May 21, I voted “no” on the bill because I was concerned about its impact on local farmers. The farmers I represent are good, honest, hard-working people. Agriculture is the backbone of our country and a key economic engine for our state.

I did not want to put these jobs in jeopardy.

I was also concerned about the bill’s potential impact on the cost of groceries. There were many unanswered questions as to whether this bill would result in costs rising for consumers. The people I represent cannot afford higher weekly grocery bills. During the legislative debate, further questions were raised concerning freedom of speech constitutional issues and a report on the World Health Organization’s website regarding the risk factors.