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Redding Rep. Shaban Blasts Federal GMO Law

State Rep. John Shaban is criticizing the federal government for a new GMO labeling law that circumvents a state measure passed three years ago.
State Rep. John Shaban is criticizing the federal government for a new GMO labeling law that circumvents a state measure passed three years ago. Photo Credit: File

REDDING, Conn. -- State Rep. John Shaban (R-135) is upset about a new federal measure supplanting a state law requiring that all food made with genetically engineered ingredients be labeled as such when sold on Connecticut shelves.

The state-based effort, driven in part by Shaban’s work on the GMO task force, was effectively killed recently when President Barack Obama signed bill S.764 into federal law, Shaban said.

The measure, which expressly pre-empts all state laws on the topic in favor of a weaker, industry-driven standard, has raised the ire of proponents of GMO labeling.

Shaban, who represents Easton, Weston and Redding in the State House and is challenging U.S. Rep. Jim Himes in the 4th Congressional District, is not mincing words in expressing his displeasure.

“I am extremely disappointed in our federal government,” he said. “Rather than respect our state’s laws and our citizens’ right to manage our health and food choice rules, they have once again cut our legs out, letting federal officials from other states supplant the will of Connecticut citizens.”

The state GMO bill was signed into law on June 25, 2013.

The bill, which Shaban helped draft and co-sponsored, not only called for GMO labeling, but attempted to address the challenges posed by opponents.

“To get over the federal commerce clause hurdle, we included a trigger provision that made the law active once our surrounding New England states passed their contemporaneous GMO labeling laws,” he said. “Without a joint state effort, the bill would have failed instantly in federal court.”

As ranking member of the Environment Committee, and the father of children with severe food allergies, Shaban sought the labeling to “let folks decide for themselves what they are feeding their families.”

The federal measure has been panned by a number of GMO labeling groups, who have described it as a “sham,” and a “national embarrassment.”

Despite the state law being effectively overturned, Shaban has pledged to continue the fight.

“This isn’t over yet,” he said.

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