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Conn. legislature passes separate food label bills

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut lawmakers are considering dueling bills that mandate special labels on food that contains genetically modified ingredients.

The House early Friday passed legislation by a vote of 114-7 that would require food to be labeled as genetically engineered but only after five other states with an aggregate population of 25 million people enact an equivalent law. Two of the states must be either New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts or Rhode Island.

Earlier this week, the Senate voted 35-1 to require food that's entirely or partially genetically engineered to include the words "Produced with Genetic Engineering" on the packaging. The requirement would take effect as of July 2016, or 2015 if several Eastern states pass similar legislation.

The legislature now must decide how to move forward with two bills addressing the same topic. The session ends June 5.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has thrown his support behind the House bill, with his office working with the leadership on the legislation.

"I think what we wanted was a bill that could pass both houses, that represented Connecticut playing a leadership role in the movement without the possibility of penalizing ourselves and hurting our local farmers, our producers, or driving food costs very high, literally overnight," Malloy said Friday. "And I think we got the right compromise."

Malloy said if Connecticut became the first in the nation to require labeling, consumers could face increased costs and possibly the unavailability of certain products because companies wouldn't want to produce special labels for one state.

Senate leaders have not yet decided how to resolve the differences between the bills, said Adam Joseph, spokesman for the Senate Democrats. He indicated a preference for the Senate bill, which enjoyed stronger Republican support.

"The bill that passed in the House was not a compromise bill but rather a compromised bill," Joseph said.

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