The campaign to require the labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) took a gut punch Thursday.

State House lawmakers rejected a tough GMO labeling bill passed by the state Senate, and voted instead for a watered-down compromise that left food activists with a belly ache. They had been hoping for a tough, first-of-its-kind-in-the-nation labeling bill.

The "compromise" bill emerged from hours of closed-door talks between state House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, Gov. Dannel Malloy's office, and House Republican leaders.

The House version would only require GMO labeling in Connecticut if five other states - with a population total of at least 25 million - passed similar labeling laws. To make it even more restrictive, those five states must include at least two of the following: New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts or Rhode Island.

Big Agriculture and Big Food lobbyists had been pushing hard to block any GMO labeling measure from coming out.

The legislation now heads back to the Senate.

"This is not leadership, but an abdication of responsibility," Tara Cook-Littman, of GMO Free CT, said in a glum statement issued in response to the House vote.