Steve Mistler reports on the status of a new bill, requiring the labeling of GMO products, making its way through the Main State Legislature. The emphasis at the end of the post is mine. The fact that the FDA would “assume” the products are safe until proven otherwise and that the industry can dictate the terms of independent testing further highlights the disproportionate influence these industries have on the government.
The Senate voted 35-0 Wednesday to pass an amended version of the bill, L.D. 718, mirroring a similarly overwhelming vote in the House the day before. Supporters of the bill, including the Maine Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association, hope Gov. Paul LePage will support a compromise provision that triggers the labeling requirement once five contiguous states, including Maine, adopt labeling laws. The governor has not taken a position on the bill, but even if it becomes law, the labeling requirement will hinge on whether a bill is approved in New Hampshire, the only state with which Maine shares a border. A GMO (genetically modified organism)-labeling bill has been submitted to the New Hampshire Legislature. The public hearing was more than five hours long, according to N.H. state Rep. Tara Sad, D-Walpole, chairwoman of the Environment and Agriculture Committee, which is working on the proposal. Like Maine, the labeling bill in New Hampshire is the product of a growing and well-organized organic food movement that is determined to take on the biotech industry and Monsanto, the agribusiness and biotech industry giant, following an unsuccessful effort to do so in Congress. Monsanto has threatened to sue states that pass similar labeling laws, one reason lawmakers in several states are passing labeling legislation that depends on other states doing the same. The state compacts could help defray costs of a lawsuit. Rep. Lance Harvell, R-Farmington, said Tuesday that the compact creates a higher hurdle for the labeling law and makes passage of L.D. 718 somewhat symbolic until other states join Maine. “It also sends a message to Monsanto and the biotech industry,” said Harvell, adding that the industry was reeling from legislation that has appeared in at least 18 other statehouses this year. Proponents of the Maine bill, including the Maine Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association, said it is up to states to take on industry to ensure that it discloses whether food is bioengineered — meaning its DNA has been spliced with that of an unrelated plant, animal, bacterium or virus — because Congress has failed to enact federal legislation. Opponents, including the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, the Maine Farm Bureau and the Grocery Manufacturers Association, say the bill would unfairly stigmatize genetically modified foods despite a dearth of research suggesting such products are less nutritious than those conventionally grown. Advocates of new regulations say scientific evidence is emerging that genetically modified foods can increase health risks and food allergies. They say federal regulators have left testing up to the industry that is producing and profiting from genetically modified products. Supporters of labeling argue that independent testing of genetically modified foods hasn’t happened because industry patents prohibit it. The federal Food and Drug Administration regulates genetically modified foods but does not approve them. The agency assumes that the foods are safe until confronted with evidence that they’re not.
His entire article here.