In secret documents that I uncovered in November, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (aka food industry lobbyists) laid out its five-point plan for opposing the labeling of foods containing genetically-modified organisms or GMOs. First on the list: "To oppose all state efforts that would impose mandatory labels," including state legislation. With more than 20 states having introduced state bills to require GMO labeling, the junk food lobby has its work cut out for it. But they've wasted no time as the 2014 legislative session gets underway, starting with targeting the New Hampshire capital.
The bill to require GMO labeling in New Hampshire was first introduced last summer, but was sidelined to a subcommittee for "study" and is now back on track. Groups opposed to the measure include local lobbyists such as the New Hampshire Grocers Association, but also several national players such as Monsanto, the Biotechnology Industry Organization, and of course, the Grocery Manufacturers Association. That explains the shady tactics starting to emerge. Last Wednesday a hearing was scheduled in the House of Representatives where industry was handing out two documents at the door:
Industry lobbyists also paid for a full-page advertisement that ran in several local newspapers making the same arguments as above with the same inflated list of signatories. Alexis Simpson is the GMO Labeling Campaign Coordinator for New Hampshire. She wasn't surprised to see the Grocery Manufacturers Association show up in Concord, since she has been following the group's actions in other states. She told me that "GMA's latest response to mandatory state labeling is to offer preemptive voluntary labeling. That language is now in the culture thanks to GMA."