The Maine Grocers and Food Producers Association, which advocates a federal response to GMOs, opposes a new state law that would mandate GM labeling after five other states take the lead. Connecticut passed a similar law last year.
“We advocate reserving labels to convey serious health information and we certainly have supported voluntary labeling of genetically modified foods,” said Shelley Doak, executive director of MGFPA. “If individuals make a personal decision that they don’t want to consume biotech derived ingredients they can easily avoid them by purchasing certified organic products.”
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The association hasn’t taken a position on how it would like the issue handled federally, but says compliance with different laws in different states would be arduous for its members since many operate in multiple jurisdictions.
“We know that Vermont is expected to pass legislation this year and then all eyes are on the state of New Hampshire, and that’s certainly something we’re very keenly monitoring,” Doak said.
The law comes as stakeholders on both sides of the issue debate whether GM foods should be labeled "natural". Earlier this week FDA declined requests from three federal judges to determine whether GM foods may or may not use natural claims, according to reports.
The judges are deciding deceptive marketing lawsuits against CPG companies using natural claims on foods that contain GMOs and/or other ingredients considered unnatural by plaintiffs.
Read more: GMO Labeling Supporters Not Backing Down
The FDA has determined that GM foods do not materially differ from other types of food, and issued a guidance document in 2001 stating: “A label statement that expresses or implies that a food is superior (e.g., safer or of higher quality) because it is not bioengineered would be misleading.”
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