By Analiese Paik
Soybean oil and now canola oil (granted generally recognized as safe “GRAS” status for use in infant formula by the FDA in January, 2013) are used by infant formula manufacturers as sources of good fat. We know that about 90 percent of US soybean and canola crop are genetically modified and processed into a variety of industrial and consumer products, including oils. How much of the soybean and canola oils used in infant formulas, including Similac by Abbott, Enfamil by MeadJohnson, and Good Start by Gerber (a Nestle brand), are genetically modified? What other GM ingredients do they contain? Very simply, we don’t know because we have no GM ingredient labeling laws in the US.
That could change. CT State Representative Diana Urban, co-Chair of the CT General Assembly’s Children’s Committee, plans to introduce legislation, An Act Concerning GMOs and the Labeling of Children’s Food, that would mandate the labeling of infant formula and perhaps other children’s food in the state of Connecticut.
I updated the news release below to include bill numbers where available and a contact name and email address for submitting your testimony to the clerk for the CT General Assembly’s Children’s Committee. Your testimony will not be posted online unless you email it to the clerk, Liz Giannaros.
Public Hearing on Campus
Fairfield University will be the site of an upcoming Connecticut General Assembly public hearing by the Select Committee on Children. The forum is related to proposed legislation on issues dealing with toxic substances in children’s products, labeling of baby food containing genetically modified organisms, and use of toxic fire retardant in children’s products.
The hearing is 6 p.m., Thursday, February 28 in the Oak Room of the Barone Campus Center and is not only open to the public, but also the entire campus community for the purpose of both observing and providing testimony on the legislation.
The hearing in Fairfield is the result of an initiative by the state government charging Assembly committees to hold public hearings on legislation at venues other than in Hartford, thus making it more convenient for individuals and groups in southwestern Connecticut to provide input to the proposed bills. Rep. Kim Fawcett (D-Fairfield) contacted the University about holding the meeting on the Fairfield campus.
Rep. Fawcett, vice chair of the Committee said of the hearing topic, “Toxins and their impact on children are issues I have become passionate about and we are fortunate to have incredible, strong advocates throughout Fairfield County who are working to educate the public and fight for changes in public policies. It is a perfect fit to bring this hearing to our region, not only to bring attention to the issues but also to more conveniently facilitate these strong local voices into the public record in Hartford.
University spokesperson, Martha Milcarek, said, “We are delighted to have the opportunity to host such an important meeting on campus. Not only does this serve the region, but will provide a wonderful educational experience for our students to see the legislative process at work.”
Following is the specific legislation under consideration:
- An Act Concerning Genetically Engineered Baby Food – House Bill #6527
- An Act Concerning Toxic Fire Retardants in Children’s Products – House Bill #6332
- An Act Concerning Chemicals of Concern for Connecticut’s Children – Bill #TBA
Testimony on legislation may be provided one of two ways: verbally, during the hearing or by submitting written commentary to the Committee. In order to testify at the hearing, it is necessary to register that evening with committee staff. Email your testimony to email@example.com. by 5 pm on Wed. for consideration on Thursday evening. Liz Giannaros is the clerk for the Children’s Committee. All testimony, whether received by Wednesday evening or not, will be posted online.
Members of the Committee on Children include Sen. Danté Bartolomeo, co-chair (D-S13); Rep. Diana Urban , co-chair(D-043); Sen. Bob Duff, vice chair (D-S25); Rep. Kim Fawcett, vice chair (D-133); Art Linares (R-S33); Rep. Whit Betts (R-078); Rep. Christina Ayala (D-128); Rep. Juan Candelaria (D-095); Rep. Ernest Hewett (D-039); Rep. Laura Hoydick (R-120); Rep. Edwin Varagas (D-006); Rep. Terrie Wood (R-141).