Democratic Lawmakers Disagree on GMO Grass Seed Bill

Apr 11, 2014

Senate President Donald Williams introduced a measure this session that would ban genetically modified grass seed. The bill passed in the Senate, but was voted down in the House.
Credit CT Senate Democrats / Creative Commons

Democrats hold the majority in the General Assembly so it’s rare when a bill endorsed by Democrats in one chamber gets defeated in the other. But that's exactly what happened this week. 

Typically, a bill that has support in one chamber, but not the other, will simply never come up for a vote. But a bill to ban genetically modified grass seed managed to slip through the cracks.

The bill was introduced last month by Senate President Don Williams in response to the news that the Scott's Miracle-Gro company will soon release a genetically modified grass seed resistant to Monsanto's weed killer Roundup. Supporters of the bill worry use of the seed would spark a dramatic increase in the use of Roundup, causing potential damage to the environment.

The bill passed the Senate on a 25-11 vote, but many in the House had problems with the bill, including House minority leader Larry Cafero who questioned the logic of banning a product that isn't even available to consumers yet. "We have a bill before us that says, if some business out there is even thinking, even thinking about making such a thing, don't bother, because you ain't gonna sell it in Connecticut. What have we come to?" asked Cafero during debate on the bill Thursday.

In the end, 51 Democrats, including House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, joined Republicans in voting down the bill on a 103-37 vote. Scott's Miracle-Gro employs 226 people in Connecticut.