Updated: Friday, 15 Mar 2013, 6:33 PM EDT
Published : Friday, 15 Mar 2013, 6:33 PM EDT
HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) -- There is a push to make Connecticut the first state in the country to label genetically modified food. The proposed legislation in Hartford drew quite a crowd on Friday.
On the heels of national grocery retailer Whole Foods planning to label genetic modified organisms in food by 2018 comes the announcement from Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream that it will be 100 percent GMO free by the end of this year.
"We are proud of what we put into our ice cream and we think our customers ought to know," said Jerry Greenfield, co-founder of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream.
Co-founder Jerry Greenfield is among those testifying in support of a proposed bill sponsored by State Representative Phil Miller to label genetically modified food in Connecticut.
GMO Free of Connecticut, behind the grass roots campaign is led by a mother of three.
"I don't want my children being lab rats so I don't want them eating it so until there's labeling, I can't make that choice for myself," said Tara Cook-Littman, GMO Free of Connecticut.
Scientists representing both sides weighed in before legislators.
"The American Medical Association has looked at this issue for over more of a decade. They've concluded the kind of specific labeling proposed in this legislation is unjustified. There are no data, there's no experiment that would support the claims made by advocates for this legislation," said Dr. Val Giddings.
"The FDA does not recognize that genetic engineering is any different than conventional breeding so there's no requirement for any safety test before the products come out of the market. The companies get to declare whether the products are safe or not," said Dr. Michael Hansen.
While supporters point to profits in the billions for biotech companies, the opposition says it will put farmers and related businesses at a disadvantage.
"These crops that are improved by technology produce higher yields of higher quality, lower costs and lower environmental impact than any of the other alternatives," said
Representative Miller tells News 8 he's confident it will be voted out of the Public Health Committee but the challenge will be convincing the leadership to present the bill for a floor vote.