What are GMOs?
GMO stands for “genetically modified organism”. GMO foods have their genes altered to produce desired traits - like bigger, redder tomatoes or corn that is resistant to pesticides. The process of making these foods is sometimes called “bioengineering.”
Are GMO foods safe for people to eat?
In 1992, the FDA declared that GMO foods aren’t inherently dangerous. Still, some people worry about eating bioengineered foods and prefer organic alternatives. Organic foods made without using bioengineering.
About 90 percent of scientists believe GMO foods are safe. Many leading health organizations agree, including the American Medical Association and the World Health Organization.
Still, many consumers worry that altering the DNA of our food could have consequences for human health and development. This concern among the public led to a push for labeling requirements on GMO foods.
Are food companies required to label GMO foods?
In 2014, Vermont became the first state to pass a law requiring labels on foods that contain GMOs. However, before Vermont’s law was implemented, Congress took over GMO labeling. Now, the USDA is in charge of setting the standards.
At the end of 2018, the USDA released guidelines for food companies on how to follow the new national labeling law. These instructions say that food makers must keep detailed records of where foods come from and label foods that have GMO ingredients with a circular “bioengineered” symbol.
Some smaller food companies, as well as restaurants and bars, won't have to use these labels.
What GMO regulations has New Hampshire considered?
New Hampshire voted down two bills to require labels on genetically engineered foods: HB 1674 (2016) and HB 660 (2014). There won’t be any more now that the federal government has taken charge of GMO labeling standards.
In 2011, the Legislature considered creating a database of New Hampshire-grown genetically modified crops. The database would have listed where the crops were growing, the company that produced them, and the name of the person responsible for the crops. The idea was ultimately rejected.
GMO litigation laws
GMO crops have sparked debate about questions of liability in several states, including New Hampshire. The New Hampshire Legislature shot down a bill allowing farmers to sue over crops damaged by the use of GMO products. For example, if a company that makes GMO seeds failed to disclose possible adverse effects of the seeds on its label, a farmer could sue for damages to his or her crops.
Other states have considered protecting farmers from being sued by GMO manufacturers because some genetically engineered seeds drifted into their fields from a neighboring farm.
Other states have tried banning certain GMO products
There have been a handful of attempts at the state level to regulate specific GMO products. For example, Alaska considered banning the sale of genetically modified fish, while New York almost banned the use of GMOs in vaccines. There has been no legislation in New Hampshire to prohibit particular GMO foods.
Want to tell your elected officials where you stand on GMO regulations? Find out who represents you and drop them a line.
“New Hampshire should more strictly regulate GMO foods.”
- Consumers should feel confident that any food purchased lawfully in New Hampshire is entirely safe. So far studies suggest that GMO foods are not dangerous to human health. However, some say it is still too early to know the long term consequences of bioengineered food.
- Some say the federal labeling law should be scrapped because states have the right to decide where they stand on GMO disclosure.
- A GMO database would empower New Hampshire citizens to know what genetically modified crops are being grown in their state.
- Farmers should be able to take legal action if their crops are damaged by being mixed with GMO seeds. They should also be protected from lawsuits if GMO crops drift onto their fields.
“New Hampshire should not more strictly regulate GMO foods.”
- The FDA, the National Academy of Sciences, and other organizations have concluded that GMO foods are safe for humans. GMO regulations would constitute needless red tape.
- GMOs allow farmers to produce more food with less waste. There is no need to instill fear in the public over what is ultimately a widely-beneficial scientific breakthrough.
- Returning the authority to label GMO foods to the states would lead to a confusing patchwork of state laws. It would make selling foods with GMO ingredients nearly impossible for national brands.
- A GMO database would cause undue fear among consumers. It would suggest that genetically engineered crops are dangerous when they are not.