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Letter: Emotional Issue of Food Labeling

To the Editor:

I’d like to congratulate the Valley News and staff writer Nicola Smith for the informative article on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) that appeared in the Aug. 4 Sunday edition. The article did an excellent job of presenting both sides of what is becoming a very emotional issue for many people.

As a member of the New Hampshire House Environment and Agriculture Committee, I have spent a great deal of time researching GMOs for House Bill 660, which has been retained by the committee over the summer for in-depth study. Your article provided an excellent overview of the pros and cons of GMOs, and I applaud your efforts.

An aspect of GMO labeling that was not addressed in your article is the potential for legal ramifications from state-based, rather than federal labeling laws. In March 2013, Hawaii Attorney General David Louie released a statement indicating that he believed that a state law requiring labeling would not be constitutional. “It is likely that any state effort to require GMO labeling will be viewed as either expressly pre-empted by the (Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act) or an intrusion on the comprehensive federal scheme of food labeling,” he stated.

Our committee is currently seeking additional legal opinions on this issue. Federal bills requiring labeling of GMOs have been introduced in both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate. As of Aug. 6, the Senate version of the bill has been publicly endorsed by 13 senators, including Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders from Vermont and Jeanne Shaheen from New Hampshire. The House version of the bill has been publicly endorsed by 39 representatives, including Rep. Peter Welch from Vermont and Reps. Carol Shea-Porter and Ann Kuster from New Hampshire.

As the labeling issue works its way through the state and federal legislative process, I’d like to remind your readers who would like to minimize their exposure to GMOs that any produce that is labeled as “organic” cannot, by law, contain GMOs. In addition, I’d encourage everyone who is concerned to spend some time learning about GMOs so that they can make informed decisions at the grocery store.

Rep. Linda D. Lauer, D-Grafton District 15

Bath

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