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Friday, August 23, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

House backs measure to keep states from requiring GMO labeling

Idaho Capitol dome (Betsy Russell)
Idaho Capitol dome (Betsy Russell)

A non-binding memorial to Congress urging it to enact national legislation blocking any state from requiring labeling of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, won House support on a 41-24 vote today, after much debate. The memorial says foods containing genetically engineered (GE) ingredients “are as safe to eat and grow as foods produced without GE ingredients,” and says, “Technology adds desirable traits from nature, establishing the potential for nutritional, health, agronomic and environmental benefits.” Rep. Steve Miller, R-Fairfield, and a group called “Growers for Biotechnology” proposed the measure.

Amid some confusion over the measure, Rep. Pete Nielsen, R-Mountain Home, arguing in favor of HJM 6, told the House, “It’s always labeled, so you don’t have to buy it.”

The measure says only the FDA should regulate GMO labeling, to avoid “a patchwork of local and state mandatory labeling laws and regulations (that) will force costly changes to manufacturing, labeling, warehousing, inventory and distribution channels.” Arguing against it, Rep. Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, said, “I think this memorial gets us way out over our skis. … This body declares that GMO’s are just as safe as non-GMOs? I am totally unqualified to say that, as is anybody in this body. The science is ongoing.” She said, “So often we in this body rail against the federal government” for imposing its will on states. But, she said, “That’s exactly what this is doing here.”

The measure passed despite bipartisan opposition. Here’s the roll call:

  • AYES -- Anderson, Anderst, Andrus, Batt, Bell, Beyeler, Boyle, Burtenshaw, Chaney, Dayley, Gestrin, Gibbs, Hartgen, Holtzclaw, Horman, Kauffman, Kerby, Loertscher, Luker, Malek(Malek), McDonald, Miller, Monks, Moyle, Nye, Packer, Palmer, Pence, Perry, Raybould, Romrell, Rudolph, Smith, Thompson, Troy, Trujillo, VanOrden, Vander Woude, Wood, Youngblood, Mr. Speaker
  • NAYS -- Barbieri, Cheatham, Chew, Clow, Collins, Crane, Dixon, Erpelding, Gannon, Harris, Hixon, Jordan, King, Kloc, McCrostie, Mendive, Nate, Nielsen, Redman, Rubel, Scott, Shepherd, Sims, Wintrow
  • Absent -- Bateman, DeMordaunt, McMillan, Rusche, Wills

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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