Taxpayers need to ask their legislators to oppose House Bill 660 which would impose government-mandated labels for foods derived from plant biotechnology. The bill defines genetically engineered food as any food that is produced in a way that does not occur by natural multiplication or natural recombination. The bill covers raw agricultural products and processed foods used to feed humans or animals. It requires that any such food sold in New Hampshire be labeled with the words “Genetically Engineered” on the front of the package or on the retail store shelf where the product is displayed. The bill authorizes an expansion of the bureaucracy of the state government to establish regulations for foods and to test and monitor foods for compliance, whether packed in New Hampshire or other states.
The requirements outlined in HB660 will mislead New Hampshire consumers; increase costs to New Hampshire farmers, food producers and retailers; and create a state-run program that New Hampshire taxpayers will have to pay for. Oversight of food quality is currently managed by the Federal government, and food producers within the various states and in other countries deal with approvals and labeling requirements established on a national basis. Establishing a New Hampshire-specific standard for labeling will result in increased costs and reduced product offerings for New Hampshire consumers.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration stated that “. . . there is no significant difference between foods produced using bio-engineering, as a class, and their conventional counterparts.” The American Medical Association stated in June 2012 that “there is no scientific justification for special labeling of bioengineered foods . . .”
Adding additional cost to New Hampshire food producers and consumers is unjustified. The implementation of biotechnology in food production has provided improved crop yields, less use of pesticides and consequent environmental and cost improvements. One can only imagine the additional costs and hardship that New Hampshire’s local farmers and orchard owners would endure with this bill. The Legislators have far more important issues to address without starting an additional layer of bureaucracy which could harm the BUY New Hampshire efforts that are working out well with positive results for both growers and consumers. The Legislators need to step back, take a deep breath and focus on growing jobs in New Hampshire and addressing a fair and bipartisan approach to health care in New Hampshire. Health care and growing jobs are the most important issues facing our State at this time, not plant biotechnology.
Jim Adams is Chairman of the Granite State Taxpayers and a member of the New Hampshire State Veterans Council