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New England:  home of  arctic temps, piles of snow – and a whole lot of action on GMO labeling.

In 2013, Connecticut became the first state in the nation to sign a GMO labeling bill into law, followed by Maine in early January 2014.

However, both bills contain provisions that prevent the laws from going into immediate effect.   In Connecticut’s case, the labeling requirement can only kick in after four other states pass GMO labeling bills, one of which must share a border with Connecticut, and the northeastern states that pass bills must have a combined minimum population of 20 million people.

Following suit, Maine’s bill requires that five other states pass similar GMO labeling bills, and they must be contiguous (i.e. share at least one border with another labeling state, including Maine).   This means that New Hampshire, the only state that abuts Maine, must also pass a labeling bill in order for Maine’s to take effect.

So it was especially disappointing this week when the New Hampshire legislature voted down a bill that would have required GMO labeling in the Granite State, after extensive lobbying by the processed food and biotech industries.

But momentum abounds for GMO labeling in the northeast.   This month,Vermont’s Senate has been holding hearings on a labeling bill that passed the House last year, a bill is about to come before a House committee in Rhode Island, and bills are also currently under consideration in Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey.

Nationwide, GMO labeling bills are active in about two dozen states.