Rep. Tony Hwang (R-134) and Jerry Greenfield, the co-founder of Ben & Jerry Ice Cream, joined together to support Connecticut House Bill 6519 legislation at a public hearing recently in the Public Health Committee at the Connecticut General Assembly.

The bill would require the labeling of genetically-engineered foods and to create best practices for GMO farming.

“I look at this as a fundamental right to know issue,” Hwang told the Times.

Neither the Federal government, nor any other state in the nation has a labeling requirement that applies to all genetically modified foods. It is currently under consideration in a number of legislative bodies throughout the United States.  The measure does not take a position that genetically modified foods are good or bad; the bill is simply about giving information to consumers.

Hwang said his son’s peanut allergy makes him sensitive to the fact that people have a right to know what is in their food and where it comes from.

“I’m a chicken wings and burger guy but I look at it from the standpoint we should be able to know exactly what is in our food so we can make informed choices,” he said.

Jerry Greenfield has been a key ally in efforts to win mandatory labeling of GMOs in his home state of Vermont.  He also delighted legislators and activists with not only his testimony, but also samples of his famous ice cream.  Ben & Jerry’s recently announced that the company had committed to switching to all non-GMO ingredients in its ice cream products by the end of the year, in order to meet the growing demand by consumers.

“Increasingly, Americans are demanding openness and transparency in our food supply,” Greenfield said. “Ben & Jerry’s is proud to stand with the people of Connecticut by supporting mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods.”

Rep Tony Hwang also submitted testimony in the public hearing and emphasized that, “This bill would require that labels provide that information to consumers and allow the marketplace to decide, not governmental or copyright protection against individual freedom of choice.  By mandating GMO labeling, this bill would give us the transparency that countries like Japan, Australia, Brazil, China and all 15 European Union Countries already enjoy.”

Hwang said he isn’t trying to hurt corporations that may use GMOs. Some, like Ben & Jerry's, see eliminating GMOs as a good business decision, he said.

“I am very sensitive to businesses,” Hwang said. “But we do this all over the world and those businesses are doing fine.”

HB 6519 is currently before the legislature’s Public Health Committee. The public hearing was held on March 15.

Hwang said the bill should have been voted on Wednesday but was held up.

You can get more information on the public hearing testimonies and the bill’s status in the General Assembly at http://1.usa.gov/Y76Dkv.