Everyone thought that Vermont would likely be the first state to pass legislation mandating labeling of genetically-modified foods. But Connecticut beat them to it – sort of.

The Connecticut General Assembly passed legislation to require labeling of GMO foods on June 3. Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is expected to sign the legislation into law. This makes Connecticut the first state in the country to require GMO labeling – with one stipulation.

For the legislation to take effect, additional states totaling at least 20 million in population must also pass similar legislation, and one of the states must border Connecticut. The trigger is in response to concerns that if Connecticut was the only state with such requirements, it could put the state’s commerce at risk.

Gov. Malloy said the bill, “strikes an important balance by ensuring the consumers’ right to know what is in their food while shielding our small businesses from liability that could leave them at a competitive disadvantage. I look forward to working with advocates and stakeholders on this important issue, and thank legislative leaders for their work in crafting this legislation.”

“There is mounting scientific evidence showing that genetically modified foods are harmful to our health,” said Sen. Donald E. Williams.

“This bill is simply about the right of people to know what the food they buy contains so they can make healthy, educated choices about what their families will or won’t eat,” said House Republican Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr. “In this regard, Connecticut is a pioneer in transparency concerning the foods we eat.”

There were few negative comments about the announcement. However, writing in reason.com, Ronald Bailey noted, “Every independent scientific body that has ever looked at biotech crops have found them to be as safe to eat and as safe for the environment as conventional crops. The Food and Drug Administration only requires labels when health or nutrition issues are involved, which is manifestly not the case here.”

Twenty states have either active GMO labeling bills or have campaigns for GMO labeling.