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Connecticut’s GE Foods Bill Eviscerated by Lawyers

 

By Analiese Paik

Right to Know CT rallied in support of Rep. Richard Roy's GE Foods bill at the Capitol on May 4, only to withdraw support the next morning after learning that the labeling provision had been removed.

Connecticut’s Genetically Engineered Foods bill may still be alive, but it is no longer a bill requiring the labeling of GE foods. As of last night, the labeling provision was removed. Why was this bill eviscerated?

Rep. Richard Roy of Milford, co-chair of the Environment Committee and the original sponsor of the bill, when reached for comment this morning said “I feel very strongly that someone or some state has to challenge the use of the Bill of Rights, designed to protect we individuals, from using it to thwart the sharing of information and the subjugation of a whole industry. Residents of more than 50 other countries get simple information saying that saying that GMOs are present in a product. The freest society in the world cannot get that simple sentence.”

I asked Rep. Roy why the labeling provision was removed from his bill, the Act Concerning Genetically Engineered Foods. “The labeling provision was eliminated from the bill due to fears that it opened the state up to a lawsuit. The attorneys for the leadership and Governor’s office felt that the Constitutional Rights of Monsanto gave them the power to successfully sue the state. Their main duty was to protect the welfare of the state” said Roy.

Tara Cook-Littman, my fearless partner in leading Right to Know CT, repeated what she’s been saying for weeks about the constitutionality of the bill. “The constitutional argument is absurd, and everyone knows it.  As long as Connecticut law makers had a legitimate state interest that was reasonably related to the labeling of products produced from the process of genetic engineering, the GMO labeling bill would be considered constitutional by any court of law.”  Littman added, “It appears that the biotech industry’s influence was in place all along, waiting for this tactic to be deployed at the last minute, with no time to argue before the vote.”

Right to Know CT will no longer endorse or support HB 5117, An Act Concerning Genetically Engineered Foods. I said to Rep. Roy this mornings “you are our hero and we supported your bill, but this is no longer a bill that reflects your intent to label and we must register our discontent by withdrawing our support.”

We will not go quietly into the night. Will you?

 

 
 
 

49 Comments

  1. Don says:

    Analiese, please contact me at askrsb@gmail.com I represent 2 nationally syndicated radio programs and want to expose this as quickly as possible so that people are informed and know whats going on.

    • Marshall Dubaldo says:

      Corporations have the the same rights under the US Constitution as do ‘natural human Beings’. This has been ongoing for over 140 years, but I believe accelerated in the Last 50 years, and certainly in the last 15 years. I called Rep Roy in support of his bill for labeling GMO food, but was quite sure that it would fail as not being constitutional. Monsanto did what many corporations do when their “rights” are violated; Threaten to Sue. State attorneys understand the Corps grounds for Suit (violation of Constitutional rights)and advise the State to not pass whatever legislation has been targeted by the Corporation.
      From the website http://www.celdf.org/corporate-rights “Since the early 1800s, corporations have gained rights and protections under the United States Constitution. While we never find the word “corporation” in the Constitution, corporations are able to invoke constitutional “rights” and protections under the Commerce Clause and Contracts Clause, as well as under the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments”

      Check it out, join some organizations – this must be stopped.

      • admin says:

        Marshall, we were just discussing this issue today. Thanks for the link. It will certainly be a topic of discussion as we work with our legislators on a new piece of legislation for next year.

  2. [...] Analiese Paik of Fairfield Green Food Guide asked Rep. Roy why the labeling provision was removed from his bill, the Act Concerning Genetically Engineered Foods. “The labeling provision was eliminated from the bill due to fears that it opened the state up to a lawsuit. The attorneys for the leadership and Governor’s office felt that the Constitutional Rights of Monsanto gave them the power to successfully sue the state. Their main duty was to protect the welfare of the state” he replied. [...]

    • Ravs says:

      Since when does a corporation have constitutional rights? What about the labelling of other food ingredients? Does that go against the constitutional rights of their manufacturers? And as it appears that people can be allergic to GM soy without necessarily being allergic to non-GM soy (see Genetic Roulette by Jeffrey M Smith), what about their rights to protect their health (and possibly life in the case of anaphylaxis) by knowing what they are eating?

      • admin says:

        Ravs, we agree with you and your claim about allergenic properties of GE soy is well documented. In the other labeling instances they are mandated by the FDA. FDA gave GE foods a free pass. We believe they made a mistake but they won’t reverse their policy. That’s why repeated efforts have been made to legislate labeling at the federal and state levels.

        • Ravs says:

          I think that food labelling is a federal responsibility here in Australia, I’m not sure if the states can legislate for it, though allowing GM crops is under individual state control. If there is a chance that an item contains nuts, or nut residue, or milk products it has to be labelled, I see no difference to labelling for GM.

  3. Andrea says:

    So all Monsanto has to do now is whisper the potential THREAT of a lawsuit to get their way now. What a bunch of idiot sheep we have become.

  4. Dave says:

    That is BS! They are cowards or were paid off! So many states are proposing the same labeling laws that Monsanto could not possibly afford to defend all of those cases! And people won’t allow it. They will protest Monsanto! Monsanto profits are already dropping. I say hit ‘em, and hit ‘em hard!!

    • admin says:

      Dave, we have no plans to go quietly into the night. We are reminded of the bravery of our forefathers and how they stood up for their rights, and their actions inspire us to not give up the struggle for the freedom to know what’s in our food.

  5. Haji Warf says:

    See, now, so many have tried to push through a bill through the individual state legislatures, and not one effort has made it into law. Most don’t even get a full vote. I’ve lost faith in that approach altogether.

    Similarly, a bill was introduced in California to label GMO salmon, which made it out of the Health Committee, only to die in the Appropriations Committee. My rep was a co-sponsor.

    We, the People, got tired of the sell-outs, working behind the scenes and being witness to the demise of our hopes. So, we decided to get out there and do it ourselves.

    This week, the Committee for the Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food in California submitted 971,126 signatures, gathered statewide over the last 10 weeks, to our county registrars, qualifying the citizen’s initiative to label GMOs onto the November 2012 California ballot. This is historic.

    A glimmer of hope for all of us still exists on the Left Coast. As the campaign progresses, a light will shine all summer on GMOs, brought to you by the fire in the belly of the people, not the dim-witted politicians.

    For more information or to follow the developments, go to:

    http://carighttoknow.org/
    and
    http://www.labelgmos.org/

    • admin says:

      Haji, we have been following and supporting CA Right to Know’s efforts. We are very hopeful that the November elections make your the first state to label, since your might could tip the entire country. We stand with you in solidarity and wish we could have a ballot initiative in CT, but it’s not permitted. We checked that many months ago knowing full well that all our best efforts, and those of the lawmakers that actively supported the bill, would end with failure because of the threat of a lawsuit.

  6. Wayne Meyer says:

    Re labeling: In the words of Winston Churchill ~ “Nevah, nevah, nevah, nevah give up!!!!!

  7. June Stoyer says:

    Both of you have done an excellent job and they underestimated the power of the people, especially with a very frustrated population that is tired of having puppets in office. People want true leadership. and this is far from it. The world is watching and it is embarrassing that our leadership does this. People can see clearly what they are doing! Keep the pressure on!

  8. Twojays says:

    It is all about greed, power and fear.

  9. Stephanie says:

    Unfortunately, this illustrates that the voices in political power are cowering to the big corporations again, and thereby giving them more power.

    I will still continue to support GMO labeling in any way I can.

  10. Chris Webb says:

    “The Constitutional Rights of Monsanto?” Thomas Jefferson and James Madison just did a few turns.

  11. Mazie says:

    Who specifically are the attorneys for the leadership and Governor’s office that felt that the Constitutional Rights of Monsanto gave them the power to successfully sue the state?

    I would love their names and how to get in contact with them..

    Accountability…. I want to know who is more concerned about Monsanto rather than the health, welfare and right to know “the exact origin” of the food we purchase and consume as CT citizens. Don’t “the attorneys for the leadership and Governor’s office” understand the simple concept – you are what you eat.

    So what if Monsanto sued? There are plenty of capable lawyers in the state of CT to defend the state’s position and if not, hire some.

    The bill was not to ban the sale of GMO foods in CT, just give CT citizens the right and knowledge to make conscious decisions about their food consumption.

    “…Their main DUTY is to PROTECT the WELFARE of the State”, said Roy… (caps mine) …..

    Aren’t WE the state…..???

    • admin says:

      Mazie, I feel just as you do. We do not have the names of the attorneys, but I would encourage you to call House and Senate leadership and the Governor’s office to register your distaste with their decision to remove the labeling provision that consumers and legislators alike wanted in the bill. The Organic Consumers Association has started a legal defense fund, The Money Bomb, to help any state defend their GE foods labeling bills. http://www.organicconsumersfund.org/donate/moneybomb.cfm
      Clearly they expected states to fight back, not withdraw and ignore the will of the people.

    • john schwarzenbach says:

      Right on Brother! Names of the attorney(s) who are paid by WE should be published so we could lobby them. The embarrassment might just be enough to have us come to our collective senses in an extremely non violent way. Wars are not the answer.

    • Verdonne says:

      That seems fairly easy “the governor of Connecticutt” is ultimately responsible I would think.

  12. Dr. Jon Ritz says:

    Can somebody link to the new bill? With the NEW WORDING? I found this website…but I can’t see what’s the difference.
    http://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/cgabillstatus/cgabillstatus.asp?selBillType=Bill&bill_num=HB05117

  13. Dr. Jon Ritz says:

    The way it’s written, I have to say it’s better than nothing. GMO-labeled foods get preference, and that’s super! The law implies that non-GMO natural foods are preferential, and voluntary labeling will be rewarded.

    • admin says:

      Dr. Jon, only problem is nobody is going to voluntarily label GMOs so giving preferance to a product labeled Non-GMO still doesn’t give the consumers transparency about what does. At least that’s the way I read it. Let’s see if the bill even makes it to the House floor.

  14. Too bad CT can’t step up to the plate. Out here in CA I collected signatures and I am looking forward to positive results. All GMO should be honestly labeled nation wide.
    Citizens have a right to know. Seafood is now labeled wild caught or farm raised. GMO foods are not much different.
    The Louisana shrimpers were resposible for seafood labeling.

    • admin says:

      Barbara, kudos to CA for successfully obtaining all the signatures required for getting the GMO labeling bill on the November ballot. Can you enlighten us about the process from here? How many votes are needed to pass it? Can the governor veto it? Will you tap into OCA’s Money Bomb if threatened with a lawsuit by biotech companies?

      • XG says:

        admin: Here’s a good place to start: http://www.labelgmos.org/ The org was started by Pamm Larry. There is contact info and such on the website. Basically Pamm started a petition for a ballot initiative, promoted the heck out of it and the people stood up and signed. Viola, ballot measure! It appears CT does not have ballot initiatives (only 24 states do) so the process would be different then here in CA. Check with state law, and petition the lawmakers. Bombard them with public (voter) signatures, comments, email, fax, and phone calls to their offices daily regarding their position on labeling GMO’s. With all that public pressure, they’ll take notice and act on the public’s behalf! Election years are wonderful times to get things done – jobs are on the line. ;)

        • admin says:

          XG I was connected to Pamm Larry months ago. I suppose I should find time to reconnect with her. We aim to link up strongly with all the states trying to pass GMO labeling legislation. I’m not sure legislation will work here but we will look into alternatives to a ballot initiative in CT. Thanks!

      • Andrew Morin says:

        RE: the California initiative >> what happens from here is that first, the signatures need to be verified for authenticity, which is done via random sampling but the State. Once authenticity is verified, the measure is then certified for the ballot (and since the proponents are way over the minimum necessary to place an initiative on the state ballot, it is likely it WILL get certified). Then, the initiative will be placed on the ballot – the November 2012 is the one the proponents have directed the timing for – it will be placed on the ballot with a comment regarding likely financial impacts to the state budget by the California State legislative analyst- in this case should be virtually none – along with comments by proponents and opponents, and comments on each other’s comments. The Governor is NOT able to veto the measure. However, there is one caveat: the state legislature can, once the measure has been certified for the ballot, choose to approve the measure as law – as it is written – which would then negate the need for a vote and the measure would be taken off the ballot.

        • admin says:

          Andrew, thanks for sharing the path the ballot initiative will take. We wish you the best of luck! None of this work is easy, nor does it guarantee success, but it all works to raise the consciousness of American consumers. We are so energized in CT right now. People are extremely upset about what happened to our bill and we will not sit and wait for next January to roll around to demand our right to know be legislated. You’ll be hearing much more from us soon! In the meantime, we’re all rooting for CT because you will tip the entire country. Right to Know CT supports your work so reach out to us if you need anything.

  15. XG says:

    The CA public got nearly a million signatures on the GE/GMO Right to Know initiative and now we have a ballot measure to vote on in Nov – to get GE/GMO food labeled in CA. We the People made it happen! There is no Constitutionality involved, it is simply bullying by Monsanto with the threat of a lawsuit. And, as stated in the article, it will not hold up. Officials are either being paid off or are succumbing to the scare tactics. And like another commentor stated: M doesn’t have enough to sue every state. It’s time the people of CT, and every other state in the Union, do what CA did. Get the petitions out and start signing them! There is more power in our numbers than there is in their $$$. Especially in an election year.

  16. WakeUpSleepyHeads says:

    Hello, what right do you have to poison and control the food source while profiting, is this really the future you want for your children, are those shallow worthless backed by thin air greenbacks really worth your ethics and morals, because if the answer is yes, it is beyond sad

    • admin says:

      WakeUpSleepyHeads, I hope that rant was meant for the biotech industry! We are outraged and are making our voices heard. This issue is not going away. We will continue to fight for food justice and truth in labeling.

  17. [...] the Fairfield Green Food Guide reports, legislators have gotten cold feet, removing the entire part of the bill requiring labeling [...]

  18. Dewfrogg says:

    Don’t they (biotech people) know that eventually the stuff will get into all of their food as well? And their childrens. Are they that stupid? Or do they all eat organic?? I would imagine they do, but are not ever going to admit it… It’s genetic suicide for the whole nation…

  19. Ace says:

    From reading the revised bill language, it appears to me that voluntary labelling is provided for, and the public will be informed of those commodities known to be genetically engineered. I therefore believe consumers will be able to make informed choices; and food producers who wish to label their products as NOT containing genetically-engineered ingredients will get preferential display in stores. So why is this bad for the public?

  20. Hello,

    May I introduce you to: http://www.goodnewpress.net ‘Monsanto Tumbles Down (Scientist Under Attack)’?

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    http://www.goodnewpress.net to read the 64 page magazine report on Monsanto as a chemical company patenting global food for profit.

  21. Ace says:

    From the recent IFIC survey, it appears Americans want more info on the qulaity of food, rather than whether it was made from engineered ingredients, and a good number of us are aware of the use of biotech crops in producing food:
    “Almost three-quarters of those surveyed said they are aware of plant biotechnology, such as genetically modified seeds made by Monsanto Co. (MON) and DuPont Co. (DD) About 38 percent have favorable opinions of biotech, while 26 percent are neutral, 20 percent are unfavorable and 17 percent say they don’t know enough about the topic. In 2010, 32 percent had a favorable view. ”

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-05-10/americans-want-additional-nutrition-data-on-food-labels.html?cmpid=yhoo

    • admin says:

      Ace, thanks for the summary data. If 38% have a favorable opinion, I wonder why the industry doesn’t want to label? Wouldn’t they want to point those people to products they favor?

  22. [...] Connecticut, they removed the labeling provision of their Genetically Engineered Food bill out of fear of lawsuits. While the bill remains, it is all but dead with the labeling provision gone. In a similar [...]

 
 

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