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N.H. Lawmakers Deliver Blow to Maine Modified-Food Labeling Bill

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page, Millions Against Monsanto page and our New Hampshire News page.

Legislation in Maine that would require food producers to label products that contain genetically modified ingredients has been dealt a significant blow by lawmakers in New Hampshire.

Last week, a legislative committee in New Hampshire voted 12-8 against a labeling bill similar to Maine's.

Although Maine's law passed earlier this year with broad bipartisan support and the promise of a signature from Gov. Paul LePage, it will take effect only if five contiguous states pass labeling laws.

The vote by New Hampshire's House Environment and Agriculture Committee did not kill that labeling bill, which will be considered by the full Legislature. But it marks a change in the politics that could doom its passage.

Unlike in Maine, the vote broke along party lines, with Republican committee members largely opposing it. Democrats have a 42-vote majority in the New Hampshire House, while Republicans have a two-seat advantage in the Senate.

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

Harvell said industry groups that oppose labeling laws were better prepared in New Hampshire than they were in Maine and Connecticut, the first two states to pass such legislation.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents more than 300 food producers, opposed Maine's legislation and has defeated ballot initiatives to create labeling laws in California and Washington.     

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