New Mexico Joins California, Washington in GMO Labeling Efforts

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NEW MEXICO — A lawmaker in New Mexico has pre-filed a bill that would require labeling of food and commercial feed containing genetically modified material.

New Mexico will likely become the third state to mull over GMO (genetically modified organism) labeling.

Introduced by State Senator Peter Wirth, Senate Bill 18 is distinguishable from similar initiatives in California and Washington because it would amend state law rather than create an entirely new law.

SB 18 defines genetically modified material as "a substance that has been produced, enhanced or otherwise modified through the use of recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid technology, genetic engineering or bioengineering." Foods containing more than one percent of genetically modified material would be subject to the labeling requirement. Under a new section of the New Mexico Food Act, the disclosure would have to be "displayed in a manner that is conspicuous and easily understood by consumers."

A genetically modified food would be deemed "misbranded" if it failed to comply with the labeling requirement, and the state department of environment would have the authority to conduct an investigation in order to confirm the accuracy of labeling of food products.

SB 18 doesn't specify the penalties under New Mexico law for placing misbranded food into commerce.

The bill is part of a growing movement in the West to require labeling of GMO foods.

An initiative in Washington state was filed last week with the Secretary of State. The petition requests that the Washington State Legislature enact I-522 into law, although voters ultimately could decide the issue.

In November, California voters rejected a similar initiative, Proposition 37. Food companies and other critics argued the measure would raise grocery bills, hurt farmers and result in groundless litigation.

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