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New Mexico lawmakers to take up GMO labeling

New Mexico lawmakers to take up GMO labeling

New Mexico is among states taking up GMO labeling efforts the year after California's Proposition 37 failed.

An amendment to the New Mexico Food Act would require the labeling of foods and livestock feed containing genetically modified organisms.

Sen. Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, introduced the amendment this month. The Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper reported his reasoning as discussed with 30 GMO labeling supporters at the statehouse.

Wirth said the legislation is important in allowing the community to support small local farmers who are facing tremendous pressure from what he called "big corporate farming."

"It is leveling the playing field," he said. "If we know what is in the food and we can make a choice, I certainly know that I'm going to be choosing those products that are not using [genetically modified ingredients], and that will help all of our New Mexico businesses as we go shopping."

This is not the first GMO issue for the state. The newspaper described past efforts:

During the last legislative session, a House bill from Rep. Paul Bandy, R-Aztec, would have protected farmers from lawsuits when genetically modified crops mingle with traditional crops via cross pollination. The bill made it to the House floor but was not adopted. Other bills asking for study of the issue have been introduced but never moved too far in the legislative process.

While Wirth, in part, calls his effort one for local farming, the state dairy producers are likely to oppose the effort.

Dairy Producers of New Mexico is one of the organizations likely to oppose the effort. Beverly Idsinga, executive director of the group, which represents about 150 dairies in the southern half of the state, said laws that allow for labeling of organic products already give consumers choice about food ingredients.

“I think it would actually raise food costs in New Mexico,” Idsinga said of labeling genetically modified ingredients. “I don’t think the larger companies would even sell to New Mexico anymore, just because the cost would be too high for them to have special labels on some of their products.”

Read the complete Santa Fe New Mexican report here. Legislative efforts in Connecticut and Vermont also are moving forward this year; and Washington state labeling supporters have submitted a petition likely to head to the November ballot.

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