Monday, May 27, 2013

Meatless Monday: May 2013 CT Food News

I was prepared to write a simple post with a nice recipe in honor of today’s holiday. Instead, I have chosen to write about a couple of topics that have “my knickers in a twist,” as they say in the British comedies.

TOPIC Number 1:

Last week Connecticut came very close to being the first state in the nation to pass legislation requiring GMO labeling. Products containing Genetically Modified (GMO) ingredients would have been required to be labeled as such for sale in CT supermarkets. 

It didn’t happen. Why it did not is a complicated tale. Here’s the short version

Two bills, HB 6519, An Act Concerning the Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food, and HB 6527, An Act Concerning Genetically Engineered Baby Food, were overwhelmingly approved by four legislative committees. 

The Speaker of the House refused to call these bills for a vote.

Two state senators amended a bill concerning eggs, SB 802, with the GMO labeling language. The CT Senate passed SB 802 overwhelmingly with a vote of 35-1.

Speaker Sharkey insisted on a series of restrictive amendments before allowing the House to vote on the bill. Eventually the House passed and sent to the Senate a much weaker bill. Required labeling would only go into effect AFTER GMO labeling legislation is passed in five other states with an aggregate population of 25 million.  AND, two of the states must include New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, or Rhode Island. 

If you think this sounds restrictive, read this analysis from CT Environmental Headlines for more details and other loopholes.

GMO Free CT is calling for a vote of "NO" on this new bill.

TOPIC Number 2:

On May 21, Stanley Lubman, a blogger for the Wall Street Journal, wrote a post titled, “Why Americans Should Worry About China’s Food Safety Problems.” The author made reference to the dominance of Chinese imports in some food categories, — 80% of tilapia, 27% of garlic, and 16% of frozen spinach consumed in the U.S. in 2011. He also reminded us of the numerous recent reports of the serious violations of food safety in China, and pointed out what a tiny percentage of Chinese imports are actually inspected by the FDA.

It was the frozen spinach statistic that sent me running to inspect my freezer. In general I am a careful reader of labels, especially since I discovered in September 2011 that my Nature’s Promise green beans had come from China! This discovery had prompted me to start a petition demanding that Stop & Shop start sourcing their organic green beans in the US. You would think I’d learned my lesson.

Imagine my dismay when I discovered that the frozen organic spinach in my freezer, packaged by Providence, RI company Woodstock Farms, and sold in my local co-op, was grown in China! I’ve already registered my protest. 

All I can say is, “Read those labels carefully.” Things aren’t always as they seem.

Happy Monday. Look for a recipe next time.

Have a great week.

I often blog on food or food issues on Monday in support of Meatless Monday, one of several programs developed in the Healthy Monday project, founded in 2003 in association with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Meatless Monday’s goal is “to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet.”

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