Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed a bill Wednesday that will require the labeling of genetically modified food under certain circumstances, just one day after legislative leaders from both parties warned they made some drafting errors.
House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, Senate President Donald Williams, House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, and Senate Minority Leader John McKinney inked a letter to the governor Tuesday warning of at least two mistakes they unintentionally made.
The bill does not require companies to label foods containing GMOs outright, rather it requires that four other states pass similar legislation in order to “trigger” Connecticut’s labeling requirement. One of the states must share a border with Connecticut and their combined population must equal at least 20 million people.
But the language in the bill regarding the use of the word “natural food” on labels could be misconstrued “as becoming operative on Oct. 1, 2013.” It was intended for that part of the legislation to go into effect only after the two triggers are met, legislative leaders explained in their letter to Malloy.
“We jointly regard this as contrary to our intent in passing the legislation,” they wrote.
As soon as the General Assembly reconvenes in February they will take care of that drafting error and another contained in the bill.
“It has also been brought to our attention that the definition of ‘genetically-engineered’ food contained in the Act might be construed to include pet food. We similarly intend to clarify by legislation as soon as possible after the commencement of the 2014 session that ‘genetically-engineered’ food, as it pertains to the provisions of the Act, only includes food intended for human consumption.”
Andrew Doba, Malloy’s spokesman said, the letter makes a lot of sense.
“It was always our understanding that the legislature wanted all new labeling requirements to go into effect when at least a few other states have enacted similar laws,” Doba said. “As requested by the legislative leadership of both parties, the governor will ask the Commissioner of the Department of Consumer Protection to give the General Assembly an opportunity to clarify the law and, in the meantime, to respect the General Assembly’s clear intent that all sections of the law go into effect at the same time, once the so-called “trigger” has been reached.”