Maine’s GMO labeling bill threatened by N.H.

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Maine’s legislation to require food manufacturers to label products that contain genetically modified ingredients is in jeopardy now that New Hampshire voted against a labeling bill similar to Maine’s.

The problem is due to Maine’s law requiring five other contiguous states pass similar labeling laws before it can go into effect. Maine’s law passed earlier this year with broad support and Gov. Paul LePage promised to sign it.

However, New Hampshire’s House Environment and Agriculture Committee voted 12-8 against its bill. Despite the vote, the New Hampshire bill is not dead. It will still be considered by the full legislature, although the vote marks a significant change that could prevent it from being passed and signed into law.

The vote in New Hampshire reportedly broke along party lines, unlike in Maine. Republican committee members primarily opposed it.

“It became more partisan in New Hampshire,” Rep. Lance Harvell, R-Farmington, the lead sponsor of the Maine bill, told the Press Herald. “It definitely makes things a lot tougher for our side.”

Harvell explained that opposition to the labeling bill was more organized and more prepared in New Hampshire than Maine and Connecticut.

Activists who want GMO labeling are going state by state to enact similar labeling laws. Washington state’s measure to label GMO food was rejected by voters a few weeks ago.

The battle has been between primarily organic groups who oppose any GMOs and the biotech industry and corporate food producers.

Maine added a provision to its bill to help build broad support and to try to stave off possible lawsuits from industry groups and Monsanto, which vowed to challenge the laws in Maine and Connecticut.

The Press Herald reported, “Maine Attorney General Janet Mills told lawmakers that the bill was almost certain to face a legal challenge, and said she could not guarantee that her office could defend its constitutionality.”

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