Connecticut Passes GMO Labeling Bill

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Connecticut has passed a bill requiring specific GMO food labeling, but four other states have to pass such legislation first. Marion Nestle, professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health and professor of Sociology at New York University, and author of an updated edition of Food Politics: How The Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health (University of California Press, 2013) talks about the trigger provisions and the larger movement to require special labels for GMO foods.



Marion Nestle

Comments [29]

I am shocked at Brian Lehrer's lack of research on GMOs as well as Marion Nestle's (Professor Dept. of Nutrition, Food NYU). I could have sworn that Monsanto walked into the room and paid them royally to utter such uninformed and even harmful comments about the lack of health risks of GMO food. I guess Europe must just be paranoid since they do not allow our GMO food to be sold to the public.

Adding to the absurdity and misinformation of this piece is Brian's statement that there are no known risks to human health of GMO food and Ms Nestle's agreement with that statement. Simple research would prove them very wrong on this. Of course most of the research exists from studies done in Europe. Mr. Lehrer asks Ms. Nestle if that is correct. Her response was, "I would say that is correct"...(paraphrasing) in my case I want to see food labeled because I am curious. This is a professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University?!!!!!

Please Mr. Lehrer, just leave topics that affect our health and well being as profoundly as this one does, off of your programming. You have done your listeners and the public a disservice to air such distortions.

Jun. 07 2013 06:26 PM


Well said... but glyphosate (Roundup)is a herbicide, not a pesticide.

Jun. 06 2013 06:32 PM
Maria from NJ

Mr. Lehrer. Your statement that genetically modified foods do not pose any health risks for humans (not to speak of devastation from genetic pollution on our environment) shows that you require to inform yourself from other articles than those written by monsanto approved (and paid for) and also remember that monsanto is first and foremost a chemical company. Over the past 100 years they have released some of the most destructive toxins on earth, after of course, lying about their safety. GMO is one of the worst ideas they have had to date.
In EU , the studies show the dangers of gmo. Why are they different here? we need to get monsanto out of the agencies that are in place to protect us.
also, HYBRIDIZATION for the millionth time is NOT the SAME as Genetic modification.
GMO crops harm HONEYBEES, butterflies and other pollinators as well as eagles per a study by Mr. Terrence Ingram a well respected naturalist who has been conducting a field study over the past 15 years and recently had his apiary wrongly confiscated and destroyed by the Illinois Ag Dept. Monsanto makes the mafia look like amateurs.

Jun. 06 2013 04:21 PM
Yvonne from Park Slope, Brooklyn

If I were a pregnant woman, it would not be enough for me to know that the corn was GMO if I did not know that this meant it made its own pesticide and that this pesticide has been found in the blood samples of pregnant women and their fetus. It may take a generation before we are clear if damage is being done and what that damage is. This discussion make it seem as if all GMO food is equal and just knowing something is GMO is knowing something. It is not enough information. I called but my call was not taken and I had to wait to get to a computer. I found this discussion frustrating especially when Brian asked the guest why make a fuss over GMO where toxic effecst are not yet proven when there are is plenty of stuff with known toxic effects. What about the politics of proving toxicity?

Jun. 06 2013 02:33 PM
Michele Jacobson from NJ/Vermont

While Ms. Nestle is a strong and very credible voice for GMO labeling in the USA, I believe it should be acknowledged that there are strong and compelling (as Brian says) "reason to suspect health implications." This pertains not only to human health, but to animal health and the health of the environment. (We can also add to this the risk to Monarch butterflies and honeybees).
The legislation, bogged down legal-eze, as well as exemptions, can indeed overwhelm the consumer to the point that it's difficult to know WHAT is being voted on. This article on Prop 37 in California can help explain the exemptions to GMO labeling laws:

As far as the statement regarding cloned vs. genetically engineered animals, there is a particularly chilling area of genetic engineering called animal "pharming," where the animals are engineered with pharmaceuticals for human consumption. I'm surprised Brian didn't mention this, as I thought it was his interview ("Frankenstein's Cat" -- but maybe not). I am currently researching this:

Michele Jacobson
GMO Blog -

Jun. 06 2013 02:10 PM
Barb C from NJ

Oh Brian I am STUNNED! PLEASE learn and get a better guest – that Nestle doesn't know FDA is about to approve the first GE salmon is inexcusable. AquaVantage has 'ocean pout' DNA inserted, and grows 11x as fast.

Final caller's RIGHT – this IS gutsy for CT – Monsanto threatened so sue VT last year. And he stated the grocery mfg. opposition claim of 'cost.' Get somebody: how about CU's Michael Hansen? who really knows about labeling.

There are few long-term, independent health studies. FDA just accepts the short-term biotech studies; they more or less say 'you, Monsanto, have told us that this GE corn is no different from conventional corn, therefore we find it "substantially equivalent" and we do not need to test'. The lack of *long-term* and *independent* studies is a *big* problem. If they're the SAME, how come they're PATENTABLE?

GE ingredients are in 80% OF OUR FOOD (see Inst. for Responsible Technology's "The Non-GMO Shopping Tips"). We eat more than our body weight in GE ingredients yearly (Env Wkg Grp)... USDA: 95% sugar beets, 93% soybeans, and 88% corn grown in the U.S. are GE. How much of your food has sugar (doesn't say "cane"? it's beet) or HSFC in it? What do you think meat animals are fed? soy and corn!

There ARE some lng-trm indp't studies & they repeatedly point to health risks. Consistently they link to allergies, but there's also consistent ties to cell toxicity, cancer, neuro-toxicity, endocrine disruption, digestive disorder– and more (not "smoking gun", but "OMG! need more study!"). When scientists do these studies they are attacked by the biotech industry. Read.Learn.This stinks.

BTW the labeling community uses GE [engineered, not modified] to differentiate with hybridization -- see Hansen "GE is not an extension..."

There's 2 main types of GE crops: *pesticide resistant* (i.e. "RoundupReady) and *pesticide built-in* (Bt – works by causing the insects guts to explode– how about indp't studies that *prove* thats not causing those gut problems?) Nestle just parrots the industryspeak when she says that our guts will digest the GE – 2012 Canadian study shows unexplainable elevated amounts of Bt found in human blood (93% pregnant women, 67% all women tested). The pesticide-resistant crops have caused "tolerance" in weeds (i.e. creating "superweeds"), requiring increased (not decreased as intended) pesticide use, new studies have found that glyphosate (Roundup) *is* being ingested. The Bt crops are creating tolerant rootworms (i.e. "superbugs").

You're eating GE food & feeding it to your kids. DO SOMETHING! – in NJ our labeling bills're going nowhere – read & call your legislators! The US Sen. is voting in GE-protection amendments to the Farm Bill now – call your Senator(s). In NJ contact Food&WaterWatch or GMOfreeNJ or NJ SierraClub.

Jun. 06 2013 01:29 PM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

Many GMO grain crops can never regenerate after one time use. So farmers are then forced to buy seeds every growing season from say Monsanto.
Also, pesticides/ herbicides are often spliced into GMO plants to kill insects. In turn when used by humans it may lead to chronic bowel inflammation and destruction of the stomach probiotics.

Jun. 06 2013 01:12 PM

I'd like to add many pharmaceuticals--for instance the insulin we commonly use to treat diabetes--are now produced by genetically modified bacteria. (We used to have to extract insulin from swine and human cadaver pancreas.) You don't hear many people up in arms about that. Not that I support genetically modified foods without question, but the public needs to understand exactly what they might be arguing against with this issue.

Jun. 06 2013 11:49 AM
neil from Vero Beach FL

Monsanto sure tested agent orange for its safety. Also isn't a sitting supreme court justice (who always votes in favor of Monsanto)a past employee or past lawyer for Monsanto?

Jun. 06 2013 11:48 AM

Disagree with the characterization that Connecticut is being not courageous or wimpy in their move. They realize this efforts needs to reach a critical mass for the effort to be successful.

Jun. 06 2013 11:47 AM

All the worry about damage to humans what about harm to nature?

Jun. 06 2013 11:47 AM
William from Manhattan

Professor Nestle is great! What a rational voice, and clear exposition of the issues and the science. Best definition of GM I've ever heard, in answer to question about difference between GMO and hybrid. Her book is definitely going on my list!

Jun. 06 2013 11:47 AM


Exactly. The real danger is one of ecological collapse. It is very frustrating to listen to the debate as it almost never discusses the real problem.

Jun. 06 2013 11:47 AM

PJ: the aforementioned anecdotes are from friends who spend a significant amount of time in other countries and experience healthy weight loss. Diet type and exercise between the countries are the same, and the only difference seems to be presence of GMO products. Who knows, but it would be nice to have the label info to determine any noticable impact on our own health.

Jun. 06 2013 11:46 AM

Jun. 06 2013 11:45 AM
Leonie from NYC

I suggest you invite a speaker who can address this issue of safety more broadly, including the potential environmental impact of GMO foods. Your guest seems just to be talking about human health effects when she refers to "safety". There is strong evidence that use of GMOs encourages the use of herbicides like Roundup, which are contributing to the loss of species like monarch butterflies, which depend on milkweed to propagate. Milkweed is destroyed when Roundup is spread on fields.

Jun. 06 2013 11:43 AM
Laura Pearl from Manhattan

This segment strikes me as extremely biased. There have not been sufficient studies of GMO foods to say whether they are dangerous or not. It is simply deceptive to say that there is "no evidence" of danger. Furthermore, they are known to be dangerous to birds, which is enough to make such studies very urgent.

Jun. 06 2013 11:41 AM
kim from new york, ny

we're so concerned about whether or not these products are healthy for us, but we're not addressing the adverse affects on the planet and the environment

Jun. 06 2013 11:40 AM

The issue is not that genetically modified crops are dangerous in and of themselves, but that the genetic modifications allow these crops to sustain exposure to a staggering amount of pesticides and other enviromental toxins. Many of these are stored and accumulated in the liver upon ingestion.

Jun. 06 2013 11:40 AM
Nat from NYC

It's irrelevant whether or not there's a risk from GMO. People have the right to have as much information about their food as possible.

And it's a political choice, as M. Nestle said. I don't want to eat food created by Monsanto, because I have tons of political objections to Monsanto, and I have the right to eschew their products, and GMO labeling enables me to exercise that right.

The fact that we do not have GMO labeling now is an outrage.

Jun. 06 2013 11:40 AM

Brian- maybe there's nothing indicating gmo is unsafe because, like the NRA & gun research, the funding for such research has been cut off?

Jun. 06 2013 11:39 AM

GMOs may or may not have an effect on health. Consumers should at least have the right to determine control factors in their diets, as they do for allergies. I've heard some interesting (but unsubstantiated) anecdotes regarding GMOs and weight loss. Shouldn't we have the information to eliminate our own GMO consumption in the event of positive results? It may not even be a case of safety, but rather just an improvement.

Jun. 06 2013 11:39 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Genetic modification of everything and everybody is probably inevitable, but still, I do support GMO labelling. At least we should have the choice to decide one way or another.

Jun. 06 2013 11:37 AM
PJ from Nj

The food in Europe tastes way better than here in the US. Why is that the case? I mean in comparison we are eating cardboard to say the French

Jun. 06 2013 11:36 AM
Joe from nearby

"No food will be grown, that we don't own."

^ Should be their corporate motto.

Jun. 06 2013 11:25 AM
Ben from Westchester

Your quiz isn't hard at all.

Imagine that four states pass mandatory GMO laws. Then, immediately after, lobbyists from Monsanto hire Black Ops agents from Blackwater/Xe to kill or maim all of the state legislators who voted for such truth-in-labeling. Those state laws are reversed.

That would make CT the 5th state to pass such laws, even with no laws currently on the books.

And it means that CT legislators are the next ones to be targeted by these companies who want all rights for themselves, and no choice/rights/benefits for the people who eat their "food."

Jun. 06 2013 11:05 AM

Mass. Senator Elizabeth Warren is just one of 71 senators voting AGAINST state's right to require GMO labeling in food packaging. Details and Action (not to be annoying w the multiple postings but this one I care about and it's all playing out at this moment):

Jun. 06 2013 10:27 AM

"Monstanto Protection Act" exempting Monsanto from many laws creeps under the radar to Europe last week...

Jun. 06 2013 10:21 AM


Here's a case where conservatives ought to flex their conservative musculature and insist on saying no to fundamental changes in our food system, until they are proven to be unequivocally safe.

Jun. 06 2013 10:19 AM

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