By Analiese Paik
I attended the fundraiser for Jeffrey Smith’s Institute for Responsible Technology on March 1 in Fairfield where event organizers Tara Cook-Littman and Glen Colello packed the house with concerned citizens and local legislators. Rep. Tony Hwang from Fairfield, Rep. T.R. Rowe from Trumbull, Rep. Fred Camillo from Greenwich, Rep. Kim Fawcett from Fairfield and Senator McKinney came to hear Jeffrey Smith speak about GMOs, why they’re not labeled, why they haven’t been tested for safety, and why HB 5117, an act that would mandate their labeling in our state, is so important to consumers. The event was designed for community outreach, to thank Jeffrey and IRT for spending three days in Connecticut, and to help ensure that their important advocacy work continues. It gave me the opportunity to publicly thank Jeffrey and his team for helping me with crucial documentation for my testimony to the Environment Committee. We knew it would be a powerful event for our communities, but underestimated just how much of an impact it would have.
Jeffrey’s speech was riveting and had an immediate and profound effect on all the guests. Based on events the following day, it helped coin The 10 Minute Rule.
At the Environment Committee’s legislative forum the next day at the Capitol, Senator McKinney said “I did say to TR [Rowe] that when Dick [Roy] was asked about the Governor’s position and others, I joked, “Why don’t we just give everybody 10 minutes with Jeffrey?” Because it was 10 minutes last night that really changed my perspective on the foods we eat. And the simple fact that Kraft and other companies make foods for sale in Europe that don’t have GMOs, but they make food for sale in this country that does. And I think you have to ask the question why.” At that point Tara Cook-Littman and I looked at each other in amazement and our eyes welled up. “You changed history” I told her, and from that moment on we’ve been working closely together on the Right to Know CT campaign in support of HB 5117. For photos, video and quotes from the legislative forum, click here.
After Jeffrey’s talk at the fundraiser, there were many inquiries about what could be done to further inform the public about GMOs and support the CT bill that would mandate their labeling. Lori Cochran, the Market Master for the Westport Farmers’ Market, asked if we’d do an event in Westport for the thousands of people who are supporters of the Westport Farmers’ Market and Wakeman Town Farm. Several weeks and many emails later, Don’t Be Fooled by GMOs was planned by top staff from the Westport Farmers’ Market, Wakeman Town Farm, me and Tara Cook-Littman and made possible by a generous donation of space by the newly renovated and green certified Westport Inn. We hope you’ll come (kindly RSVP to dontbefooledGMO@gmail.com) and encourage your family, friends, and colleagues to join you. The event is posted on our Facebook page and on the Right to Know CT Facebook page for easy sharing. The suggested donation will help defray setup and cleanup costs.